Today’s unveiling of a new war memorial by the Queen is a moment of national significance – and of great pride for us here at Stamford Stone.
We were commissioned to shape the great blocks which make up the London memorial, because Stamford Stone has one of few computerised stone-cutting machines in the country big enough for the task.
Designed by sculptor Paul Day, the London monument honours military personnel and civilians who served in the Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan, and those who supported them back home.
Each of the ten stone blocks in it weighs several tons. When pieced together, they form two huge wings several metres high – one representing Iraq and the other Afghanistan – to frame a giant bronze medallion.
The highly specialised job involved pre-programming our CNC (computer numerical control) cutting machine to produce the different shapes from raw chunks of Portland stone brought to Lincolnshire from Dorset.
Amazingly, this one-off commission came to us by chance. We were hosting a meeting with stoneCIRCLE, with whom we’re working to refurbish St John’s College, Oxford. As we showed them round, they saw our stone-cutting machine. They were already involved in producing the memorial but their own machine wasn’t big enough, so they asked us to get involved.
The task took a month to complete and was carried out in complete secrecy. The blocks were then transported from us to stoneCIRCLE in Hampshire, to be completed by hand before assembly at the memorial’s site in Victoria Embankment Gardens at Westminster.
The results were revealed by the Queen at a special ceremony, in front of other members of the Royal Family, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon and other VIPs.
At Stamford Stone, we’re proud of our royal connections. We’ve supplied stone for Windsor Castle and are heavily involved in the current restoration of the Houses of Parliament.
However this job was undoubtedly a bit special. We’re already planning a trip to London so that we can see the finished memorial close up.
We’re also hoping to invest in a second stone-cutting robot later this year, and are keen to get the chance to work on similar projects in future.