The raw material:
Much of the work we do is in Bath stone, quarried locally from a band of Oolitic limestone that stretches from Dorset to Yorkshire.
This limestone has been quarried as a building stone since Roman times, and production reached a peak around 1750 onwards, when the demand for new housing increased dramatically, and along with improvements to the road, canal and other transport systems, allowed the exporting of Bath stone to a much wider area.
In more recent years, production has declined dramatically, in part due to the introduction of different building materials and techniques, but mainly due to the difficulty in finding new accessable beds to quarry. This has made the quarrying process more time-consuming and consequently forced the cost of the raw material upward.
We select quarry block mainly from one or other of three local quarries, depending on the requirements of the individual contracts. Some stones are better suited for decorative work, being of a finer and more even grain, while others are more durable, and suit exterior architectural work better.
We have the stone delivered to our Melksham yard in blocks of up to 5 tons in weight..
These may have to be cut down to a manageable size, before they can be put on our primary saw and cut to finished size, sometimes for ashlar walling stone, or for our masons to work to profile.
After being cut down to specified sizes, and examined for flaws or defects other than the naturally ocurring flecks that give the stone its character, the stone is taken to the 'Banker shop' where our skilled masons use templates prepared by our setting-out department, to work it to its desired shape. This is done using a variety of mechanical and hand tools, with hand tools frequently used to provide the final 'finish.'
Much of our work is done locally, in Wiltshire and the surrounding area.
Although we tend to cover the 'smaller scale' end of the stone-masonry trade, covering everything from fire-surrounds, copings, ornamental stonework and architectural dressings, to ashlar and block supply for the building industry, we have enjoyed very successful collaborations with larger firms. Details of some of those collaborations with among'st others, Gaiger Bros of Devizes, and Ringway Highway Services, can be found elsewhere on this website.