In 1902 The Tennessee Paving Brick Company sold its Robbins operation to the Southern Clay Manufacturing Company of Jersey City, New Jersey. This was the same year that the community of Robbins, Tennessee was granted a town charter. Southern Clay Manufacturing imported and applied mass production machinery and techniques to the clay products industry at Robbins. The Robbins plant then began to produce and sell SCM paving bricks, fire and chemical bricks, clay sewer pipe, various construction bricks, and square-2,6, and 9-sectioned telephone line conduit.
The plant was originally powered by steam but in 1925 this system was replaced by diesel engines. Production, which had formerly been at about 3,000 bricks per day rose tremendously. By 1933 at the peak of operation production figures were 80,000 bricks per day, or 50 tons of telephone conduit produced per day. Paving brick was sold to northern and central markets (Cincinnati, Ohio; Louisville, Kentucky; Chattanooga, Tennessee) but by the late 1920s the company contracted primarily with southern markets (Miami, Jacksonville, and St. Augustine, Florida).
The Robbins brickyard prospered until the late 1920s when macadam paved road construction replaced brick paving and when disastrous hurricanes in Florida ended a decade long building boom. This construction decline spelled hardship for the Robbins plant because much of its production was based on contracts with Florida developers. Shortly after this the "Great Depression" occurred and the Robbins plant suffered a slow decline in contracts as construction projects dwindled. Slowdowns and lay-offs occurred during this time including some years which saw the Robbins brick plant open for only a few months at a time. Attempts were made to save the Robbins plant by encouraging nearby communities to pave many of their local roads with SCM bricks, all to no avail. The last bricks produced at Robbins were made in 1937 and went to Alcoa, Tennessee.
Few clay manufacturing plants survived the depression and of those that did "Only the plants favorably located to market areas or those large enough to absorb the financial crisis survived through this period." Other factors also played a part in the demise of SCM including new firing methods occurring at the time like, "hard firing", which produced bricks of uniform color and made some clays previously used for brick making unsuitable.
After the plant shut down and SCM filed for bankruptcy its assets in Robbins were auctioned off and eventually purchased by a local investor and coal strip miner who logged timber and mined coal on the former SCM property. All documents and records were collected and burned and only the remains of a few buildings are evident today. Currently the site of the plant, its buildings, and materials are slowly succumbing to decay, collapse and scavenging.
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