The area around the BP Garage on Forest Drive and extending over the Oval was once the site of the largest brickfields in the southern hemisphere with reputedly the best bricks in Africa. A railway line stretched from the Francis Road area through Scouts Place and across the lower Oval to its junction at the corner of Alice’s Ride and Forest Drive. This single track existed 25 years before Pinelands was established and served as a link between the siding at Maitland Station and the brickfields on the Uitvlugt farm.
In 1874, Mr Richard Pauling of Firbank Pauling and Company was employed as manager of the Kimberley to Cape Town Railway line. In 1875, his sons George and Harold joined him in Cape Town. It is claimed in J P Logan’s memoirs that the two brothers discovered the rich clay deposits at Uitvlugt. However, it is also documented that George at age 20 joined their father in building railways. The company, Pauling and Co., developed railways in Southern and Central Africa, as well as Greece, India and China. George died in 1919 but the company continued until 2002.
The brickfield was established in the area of the present-day tennis courts where the bricks were stacked for drying before burning. The company built two wood and iron shacks adjacent to the brickfield site as living quarters and offices for the foreman.
Towards the turn of the century the business was bought by Hare’s Lime Kiln and Brickfields and renamed the Central Brick and Tile Company. William Hare had previously established his brickfields in Woodstock area in 1835.
At the end of the Boer War all the British soldiers returned home, resulting in a recession in the Cape. Accordingly, there was a reduced demand for bricks and the price of £6 per 1000 was more than the public would pay. In addition, red bricks had become fashionable, resulting in a further drop in sales of the white clay bricks.
Eventually Mr Hare sold up and closed down the yard. The old boiler and machines were pulled by 14 mules to the new site in Mowbray which was known as Hares Brickfield, where Forest Hill complex now stands.
The kilns and the 150ft chimney were dynamited and the bricks shipped to South West Africa/Namibia for the building of the first factory for the Walvis Bay Canning Company.
The two shacks used as offices were spared when the business moved and they remained empty until the first estate manager of Pinelands, Bill Logan, took occupancy in December of 1920. The site of these shacks is where 52 and 52A Forest Drive now stand. The smaller of the two shacks was demolished in 1945 and the other shack in June 1956.