Mangalore tiles

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Mangalore tile

Mangalore tiles (also Mangalorean tiles) are a type of tile native[1] to the city of Mangalore, India. Typically considered to be a part of Spanish and Italian architectural styles, the tiles were first introduced to India in 1860 by a German missionary.[1] Since that time, the industry has flourished in India with these red tiles, prepared from hard laterite clay, in great demand throughout the country. They are exported to Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and the Far East and even as far as East Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and Australia[citation needed].[2] These were the only tiles recommended for government buildings in India under the British Raj.[3][4]

Old Manglore tiles, from an old site in Karachi, Pakistan.

These tiles still define Mangalore's skyline and characterize its urban setting.[5] They are a popular form of roofing and are preferred over concrete due to their good quality.[6]


These tiles are native to Mangalore, a city in the former South Canara district on the western coast of India. Hence they were named Mangalore tiles by the tile factory manufacturers.[1]


Tile Factory in Feroke, India

The German missionary Plebot (Georg Plebst in reality) set up the first tile factory at Mangalore in 1860,[1] after he found large deposits of clay by the banks of the Gurupura (also Phalguni) and Nethravathi (also Bantwal) rivers. It was called "The CommonWealth Trust Ltd." or locally referred to as Basel Mission tile factory, and was the first ever tile factory in India, located on the banks of the Nethravathi river, near Morgan's Gate,[7] around 100 metres (0.10 km) from Ullal bridge.[5] Currently Mphasis, An HP company has been established in this area.

Several other tile factories were established in the years that followed. In 1868, the Albuquerque tile factory producing these tiles was started by Mr.Pascal Albuquerque at Panemangalore in South Canara.[4] These were the only tiles to be recommended for Government buildings in India during the British regime.[3] The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, a World Heritage Site is also topped with these tiles due to their excellent quality and were preferred over Bombay tiles by the structure's architect Frederick William Stevens.[6]

Mangalore tile manufactured by J. H. Morgan & Sons (Mangalore)

Since the opening of the Albuquerque tile factory, Mangaloreans have been actively involved in manufacturing these red Mangalore tiles.[4] In 1878, it was followed by the Alvares tile factory established by Mr.Simon Alvares of Bombay at Mangalore. The tiles produced by the factory were in great demand throughout the Indian subcontinent and East Africa.[8] Abundant deposits of clay, plenty of firewood from the Western Ghats and cheap skilled labour helped the industry flourish.[5] By the 1900s there were around 25 tile factories situated in and around Mangalore. By 1994 around 75 tile factories were present in Mangalore.[1] As per the years 1991—1992 out of a selected 12 tile factories, 6 were owned by Hindus and the other 6 by Christians. The factories along with these tiles also manufactured materials such as ridges, limestone[3] and bricks.[9]

The prominent tile factories in Mangalore of the bygone era were
1) The Common Wealth Trust Ltd (Established by Basel Mission in 1860[10]) - This is supposed to be the first tile factory in Mangalore and thereby India.
2) A Albuquerque and Sons (Established in 1868).
3) Alvares Tile factory (Established by Simon Alvares in 1878)
4) Hammer Tiles (Established by Mahalakshmi traders in 1889).
5) Hamidiah Tile works (Established by Adhyaksha H. Koragappa(Founder of Kudroli Shree Gokarnanatheshwara Temple Mangalore[11][circular reference]) and C.Abdurahiman in 1905)
6) King George Tiles (Established in 1905).
7) JH Morgan and son.
8) Rego and sons.
9) Pioneer Tiles.
10) BK Tiles.

The Calicut Tile Co. (CTC) was the first fully mechanised roofing tile manufacturer in India. It was started in the year 1878. Besides roofing tiles, CTC also manufactures ceiling tiles, hourdees, hollow blocks, paver tiles, decorative garden tiles and terracotta products. The company is currently fully operational. The products CTC at Ferok are known and sold under the brand name QUEEN. They have another factory in the state of Karnataka. The products are known under the brand name KING.

In 2007, the industry suffered a loss with about 10 tile factories shutting down due to scarcity of raw materials like clay, and as factories struggled to find skilled and cooperative workers.[7]

Quality and Usage[edit]

These tiles define Mangalore's skyline and characterize its urban setting

They provide excellent ventilation especially during summer and are aesthetically pleasing as well. Some of them are especially made to be used for roofing kitchens (for the smoke to escape) and bathrooms. Over a period of time, these tiles become dark to black from constant exposure to soot and smoke. Clay tiles offer natural insulation, thereby reducing the expense on electricity for heating or cooling as the case may be.

Since these clay tiles are molded under extreme heat, they are resistant to damage or destruction from fire.

These red colored clay tiles, unique in shape and size, are quite famous and are exported to all the corners of world. They are unique and are made and available in different shapes and sizes depending on the users' need. Clay tiles are often white, yellow, orange or brown in color. However, they can be colored or styled according to one’s preference by spraying enamel over the tile once it has been colored before baking it in the kiln.

These tiles are not only eco-friendly but also cheap, durable and costs only one third of that of cement. Some of the buildings which are over 100 years old still have tile roofing.

Clay tiles are most apt for roofing solutions in coastal areas, and in regions that experience heavy rainfall. Clay tiles for a sloping roof offer excellent water proofing in regions where it rains quite often. It is corrosion resistant, and has superior longevity compared to other materials. The Mangalore tiles are generally placed inclined at forty five degrees. The tiles get their robust red colour due to the high proportion of iron compound found in the laterite clay.[12] A tile weighs about 2 kilograms (4.4 lb) to 3 kilograms (6.6 lb).[13] These kinds of tiles are most popularly used in Canara, Goa, Kerala, and the Konkan.


First, enough clay is collected, placed in a mold and is precisely cut to measurement. Then, the molded piece of clay with required length and thickness (or shape) is placed on another machine which puts the factory logo and shapes it into a tile. Then, any extra clay is removed by hand and sent or carried for firing and later glazing. It is heated in a kiln, and the density of the clay tile is determined by the length of time and temperature at which it is heated.

Clay tiles are often white, yellow, orange or brown in color. However, they can be colored or styled according to one’s preference by spraying enamel over the tile once it has been colored before baking it in the kiln. The extreme heat of the kiln permanently bonds the color and enamel to the tile, ensuring the color does not peel or fade away over time.

It was interesting, to say the least to see how both men and women worked cooperatively to produce the final product. Once fired and glazed, it is ready, and is stored for transport/shipping.[13]

Trade and commerce[edit]

Tiles are exported to east Asia, Europe, Australia, Africa, and the Middle East[citation needed].


  1. ^ a b c d e Giriappa 1994, p. 61
  2. ^ "Mangalore—Tiles". Retrieved 31 January 2009.
  3. ^ a b c Somerset, Bond & Wright, p. 510
  4. ^ a b c Somerset, Bond & Wright, p. 511
  5. ^ a b c Babu, Savitha Suresh (17 February 2007). "Tiles for style". The Hindu. Retrieved 31 January 2009.
  6. ^ a b John B. Monteiro (21 June 2005). "Mangalore Tiles Crown Victoria Terminus". Daijiworld Media Pvt Ltd Mangalore. Retrieved 2 February 2009.
  7. ^ a b Belgaumkar, Govind D. (12 November 2007). "Tiles are strong, industry is brittle". The Hindu. Retrieved 31 January 2009.
  8. ^ Somerset, Bond & Wright, p. 517
  9. ^ Giriappa 1994, p. 62
  10. ^ Giriappa, S. (1994). Rural Industrialisation in Backward Areas. ISBN 9788170351252.
  11. ^ Gokarnanatheshwara Temple
  12. ^ India: Physical Environment Geography Standard (Grade) IX 2007, p. 37
  13. ^ a b Belgaumkar, Govind D. (26 November 2005). "Have an imaginative roof over your head". The Hindu. Retrieved 31 January 2009.

A different type of J H MORGAN roof tile found in Old Suriyani church at Chenganoor which is much older than the photos shown in the photo.