June 12 2017
One of the challenges that we encounter on many of our construction projects here at Stamford Stone is finding a way to combine modern and traditional design.
A good example of this is our recently finished work at the University of Cambridge, which chose us to provide the stone for a major redevelopment of West Court at Jesus College.
The state-of-the-art building will include a multi-functional auditorium, offices, social spaces, and accommodation for students and visitors.
This is one of the first projects where we’ve been involved heavily in the design process, as well as providing the materials. We worked closely with contractors Cocksedge and Niall McCloughlin Architects throughout the six-month project.
Stone from our quarries at Clipsham Medwells and Greetham was used to freshen up the design of West Court, which was looking a bit outdated with its seventies-style architecture.
On the exterior walls we supplied vertical ribs of stone with a natural, rock-like finish that gives a nice contrast to the building’s smooth ashlar brickwork. The internal staircase was clad with Greetham limestone treads and risers, also with rock-like edges.
More than 200 metres of once weathered copings were supplied throughout the main building and café terrace. We also installed facia panels over the West Court entrance featuring the Jesus College crest, hand carved by our masons.
Our stone has brightened up West Court, which now looks impressive and modern while still complementing the traditional surroundings. Using a combination of machine and hand carving techniques has given a classic finish in keeping with the world-famous university.
We’re no strangers to restoring prestigious buildings. The same stone used at Jesus College has been supplied all over the country at locations including Windsor Castle and York Minster. It has also been used extensively in Oxford and Cambridge.
It’s always satisfying to see a project through from start to finish and we’re delighted to see our stone used so effectively once again.
May 22 2017
Times are changing. Responsible housebuilders are now seeking to create sustainable developments in cost-effective and environmentally friendly ways, and are choosing natural stone as their preferred material. There’s a simple reason for this. Natural stone adds kerb appeal, saleability and a sense of permanence.
- Aesthetic appeal – the variations in colour and tone of natural limestone, as well as the expert manner in which it is sawn and cropped, creates a truly gorgeous appearance that is never brash or in opposition to existing landscape or properties.
- Harmony with the environment – thanks to its natural credentials, it is also very popular with planning authorities who prefer larger developments to complement rather than detract from the surrounding landscape.
- Practical benefits – natural stone is both durable and weather resistant, making it perfect for use in external walls, outdoor landscaping or anywhere that is exposed to the elements… and in these days of chemical hypersensitivity, it poses no threat to health, making it a favourite with families who seek a healthier atmosphere inside the home. (We also offer bespoke stone products, including fireplaces, cooker hoods, Belfast sinks and staircases to continue the theme internally as well as externally!)
Choose experts who own the quarries as well as supply the stone
While we’re renowned for our contribution to restorations and beautiful bespoke projects, we are also well placed to supply national housebuilders with gorgeous natural limestone for their exciting developments. We’ve worked closely with Taylor Wimpey, Linden Homes, Persimmon, McCarthy & Stone, Hereward Homes, Francis Jackson, Taylor Woodrow and Kier to bring the next generation of houses to people living all over the UK.
Owning the quarries as well as supplying the stone gives us flexibility and control that other companies may not be able to offer. Thanks to successful planning, our resources are guaranteed for the next 30+ years, allowing continuity of natural block stone supplies for new developments as well as the preservation of many of the nation’s most loved buildings which contain Clipsham limestone, such as the Houses of Parliament.
Our quarry at Swaddywells is perhaps better described as a stone engineering processing centre. Rather than just stone blocks, our advanced cutting equipment can now produce ashlar cladding pieces allowing natural limestone to be used as either a fully constructional element or a lightweight cladding material.
Our expert sawing and cropping techniques, which include sawing on bed in heights of 65, 90, 115 and 140mm, make the natural stone easier to lay and means that it can be used by normal bricklayers as well as specialist stonemasons.
As we’ve worked with the local authority to gain planning permission for our own quarry extension, we’re familiar with the demands made on housebuilders.
Taylor Wimpey chose us to supply three different materials for their developments at Dragonfly Meadows at Pineham, Radstone Fields in Brackley and Exeter Fields – for this last project, they specified 4086 sq m2 of our local Clipsham limestone for 400 new homes, enhancing their vision of a sustainable and attractive mixed-use development. We also supplied Linden Homes with Clipsham limestone which was used not only in block form to create the exteriors but also for paving and garden walls at the properties.
Nothing went to waste – offcuts were used to create dry stone walls within the development and to produce matching decorative stone in the gardens. A true example of seamless integration with the environment.
If you’re a housebuilder, self-builder, architect or specifier, call us on 01780 740970 to find out more about how we can make your projects more cost-effective. We’d be delighted to hear from you.
March 30 2017
April 2017 is a special date for us at Stamford Stone.
It marks two decades of quarrying and processing architectural limestone, building stone and other products from our base just outside Stamford in Lincolnshire. Laura Green, Director of Marketing and Planning, explains more about how we reached this landmark moment.
“As a family, we’re celebrating 20 years of ownership, and are proud to have grown the business progressively over two decades.
Our three sites include the 20 acre Clipsham Medwells Quarry which is over a century old, and our 30 acre Greetham site, which we took over in 2014. Our production site and recently refurbished showroom, which the general public is very welcome to visit, are based in Helpston near Stamford.
In an area famous for its food and drink, limestone is our bread and butter – we’ve been lucky enough to contribute to some very prestigious projects over the last few years, including buildings like Peterborough Cathedral, new property developments in Stamford, a new orangery at Grade I listed Rushton Hall in Northamptonshire and exciting refurbishment and restoration projects in historic Oxford and Cambridge.
Natural stone continues to be a wonderful building material for both new properties and aesthetic restorations of historic buildings. Although our main business is architectural masonry and house building, our stone is equally desirable for use inside the home, too, as bespoke stone staircases, flooring for reception halls, boot rooms, orangeries and fireplaces and in the garden for patios, paving and ornamental features.
After 20 successful years in the business, we’re not planning on going anywhere. Our Clipsham Medwells quarry has reserves guaranteed for the next 25 years, securing our company’s future and preserving continuity and consistency for all our customers.
We’re planning a special Quarry Visit in June where we’ll be carving our very own plaque to celebrate making buildings more beautiful inside and out since 1997.”
What do we attribute our success to?
Changes in technology
From mechanisation in the industry which began in the 1950s to the state of the art CNC saws we use today, guaranteeing accuracy and consistency like never before, we’ve witnessed huge changes that have improved our processes – although the careful finishing by hand of our skilled stonemasons will never be replaced.
We’ve established strong relationships with architects, specifiers, housebuilders and renovators across the building, construction and retail sectors and are very grateful for their continued support and loyalty.
We’re very aware of preserving the landscape around our quarries and have a renewal plan in place which is regularly reviewed so that we can assure green spaces in the future. With sustainability such a key word in architecture and construction, we are committed to doing everything we can to protect our environment and our resources.
Finally, we love what we do
Working with a beautiful natural product that enhances buildings never loses its appeal – it’s incredibly satisfying to be using the past to invest in the future.
According to research by Stone Specialist, natural stone remains a material of choice for commercial properties, home decoration and high end housebuilding, conservation work and memorials, boosted by major projects coming on stream in London and other key cities.
Hard landscaping has also turned to stone in a major way, both for public and private projects. In 1980 stone paving and walling was a rarity. Now it is only a question of which stone to use. Once again, the very symbol of permanence and longevity is being chosen to mark out significant buildings and shape landscapes. We’ll drink a toast to that!
March 9 2017
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.
January 18 2017
If there is one important thing in any construction project, it is the need for perfect planning. Whether it is ensuring that you stick to budget, that you get the project finished within timelines – or even that you get the project finished at all, the key to it all is thorough research and planning.
Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre
The Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre at Oxford University`s Worcester College is a great example of how the right planning managed to keep the whole project on course. With a number of challenges thrown at them, constructors Beard, and architects, Niall McLaughlin Architects are managing to overcome the obstacles to see their project, through to success.
The auditorium and conference centre is located amongst Grade I listed buildings in the grounds of Worcester College, and the intent was to create a building which both fits in with its traditional surroundings, yet stands out as an impressive building. The way that the architects have achieved this is through a clever mix of modern and tradition materials and design ideas.
The architects took ideas from another project of theirs – the Stirling Prize-nominated Bishop Edward King Chapel at Ripon Theological College – with its limestone facades, timber roof and ceiling structures and tapered stone mullions. Teaming these with modern materials such as glass and reinforced gypsum, the architects are managing to creating a truly unique building that sits perfectly in its surroundings.
There are few construction projects which don`t present one problem or another, and this one is no different. There are always going to be issues when working with a number of different materials and getting them to integrate seamlessly. And the potential for problems are only increased when you are working with a mixture of old and new materials.
However, by proper research and understanding of the materials, which is then translated into the planning of the project you can begin to resolve problems and reduce the risk of other issues.
There are, of course, some issues that are unforeseen – for example, in this project, the glazing installer went into liquidation. Thanks to an intricate planning process of several months, and good knowledge of the design and materials, they managed to install the stonework out of sequence.
The limestone which was chosen for this project was Clipsham limestone – from the Stamford Stone quarries north of Peterborough. It is known for being used at Windsor Castle and York Minster, as well as many buildings in the Oxford area. The architects decided on the use of Clipsham Limestone due to its visual appearance, local use and suitability for the project.
Modern techniques were used to plan every single block which was cut to precision and laid by hand to ensure that the traditional limestone fitted perfectly to give the exact look that was desired.
With any construction project, there are going to be issues which cannot be avoided. But the key to a successful project is the way that you deal with these issues – and this comes in at the stage of planning the whole construction. As shown in the Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre project, by properly researching and planning your design and materials, you can ensure that problems are reduced and resolved quickly and with as little impact as possible.
December 19 2016
When you are tasked with designing a new building amongst a cluster of listed buildings it can be difficult to know where to start. You don`t want your building to look exactly the same as the listed buildings but likewise, you don`t want it to look completely out of place. So how can you achieve that magical blend of traditional yet modern?
Architects, Niall McLaughlin Architects have one answer, as shown in their recent development – the Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre – nestled amongst Grade I listed buildings for Oxford University`s Worcester College. They have used traditional materials, which have been used in the area for years, teamed with modern techniques and design ideas to create a truly innovative auditorium and conference centre whilst blending it in perfectly to its surroundings.
Mix of Traditional and Modern
The use of Clipsham Limestone with oak timber make up the traditional materials and glass and reinforced gypsum giving it the more modern look. But the interesting mix of modern and traditional doesn`t stop there. The techniques used to extract and shape the Clipsham Limestone are state of the art, and, surprisingly, the builders used traditional man-power to lay the stone blocks.
Clipsham Limestone is used in the facades of the building and over 500 tonnes of it is needed. It comes from the quarries north of Peterborough, run by Stamford Stone, and has a uniquely wide tonal variation from blues to pinks. The famous limestone is well known for having been used in famous, and distinct buildings such as Windsor Castle, York Minster, Kings College Chapel in Cambridge – and many buildings in the Oxford area.
Clipsham Limestone is a traditional looking limestone which gives a traditional, local, yet grand look to a building – perfect for the Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre project.
The stone was excavated and cut using modern CNC cutting techniques, to give the exact shape and dimensions that were required. The blocks were then transported to the site and laid by pure – traditional – man power – three men lifting and placing each one. As effortless as it may seem there are a lot of hidden techniques behind the laying of the limestone to give the exact look that the architects desired.
The Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre teamed the traditional Clipsham Limestone with oak timber to maintain the old, traditional look, and then used newer materials such as glass to give it a modern touch.
There is a certain degree of difficulty in blending old and new, whether it is techniques or materials, and this project didn`t go without problems which had to be overcome. However, with good planning, most issues can be overcome, as proved by the success of this project.
We don`t always want new buildings to look space-age, especially when we are taking location into account. By using a mixture of traditional materials such as limestone and oak, with new ones, and modern techniques, architects can create the perfect blend of new and old, to construct a building to please everyone.
September 8 2016
If you examine the construction materials of many of Britain’s most important, well-planned and architecturally excellent buildings, you will often find that at least part of it uses limestone in its construction.
Some of Britain’s important buildings which use limestone as part of their construction include Windsor Castle, the Houses of Parliament, York Minster, Kings College Chapel (Cambridge) and the Examination Halls in Oxford. The limestone used in all of these buildings is Clipsham limestone – from the quarries of the Rutland town of Clipsham – and one of the best types of limestone to be used in construction.
Limestone is a sedimentary rock, made up mostly from minerals calcite and aragonite. It is mainly composed of the skeletal fragments of a number of marine organisms like molluscs, corals and forams, and about 10% sedimentary rocks are limestone.
Limestone is made up from rocks which were formed in the seas millions of years ago. Clipsham limestone, for example is thought to have come from subtropical waters, 168 – 174 million years ago. It is a material which is used commonly in construction but also in creating glass, cement and lime.
Limestone in Construction
Limestone is especially sought after in restoration projects or extensions to old buildings because it can weather quickly, allowing the new construction to blend in well with the old part of the building, relatively quickly. That isn’t to say however that it isn’t durable. There are a number of different types of limestone – each, of course with their own properties, but some – such as Clipsham limestone – are very durable whilst being extremely versatile, and therefore excellent for use in construction and restoration.
Limestone can absorb and be weakened by a number of factors, such as water, frost and pollution – and the consequent acid rain. However, Clipsham limestone, thanks to its chemical make-up absorbs pollution at a much slower rate – another reason why building such as the Houses of Parliament were repaired and reconstructed with Clipsham limestone.
When it comes to constructing a long lasting, British looking building, if you are looking for a stone based construction, limestone – and especially Clipsham limestone is an excellent choice, thanks to its many factors which lend themselves well to construction.
Find out more information about Clipsham limestone and to see the progress on the construction of the Clipsham limestone Orangery at Rushton Hall, here.
March 23 2016
Here at Stamford Stone, we are pleased to be able to support worthwhile causes in our community and are glad to be helping the Peterborough 900 campaign. The campaign aims to raise funds for Peterborough Cathedral, ensuring ambitious plans for this historic building can become a reality, and culminates in 2018, with a celebration of the 900th anniversary of the start of this important building.
Peterborough 900 aims to develop facilities for education, including the provision of a new Heritage and Education centre, visitors, music and worship, and the money raised will help the cathedral to continue its work in the future. Since the campaign began in 2011, a new sound system has been installed for the enjoyment of all and enough funds have been secured for the re-pitching of the 19th century Hill organ.
In aid of these exciting plans, on the 9th of July Emma Ireland, Steve Green, Andrew Jeffery, Jim Spry, Steve Walker, Alan Sleight, Nik Swift, Patryk Wajgert, Michael Korgovskij, Ernie Karanda, Simon Jeakins, Richard Hall, Ian Moules and Tom Laughton will abseil 150 feet down Peterborough Cathedral.
They are hoping to raise as much money as possible and would appreciate any donations, big or small.
To donate to this great cause, please click here or contact any one of the abseiling team directly (or pop in to our showroom to make a donation).
March 10 2016
Blisworth limestone has long been sourced and supplied to the construction industry in it’s rightful geological birthplace place of Northamptonshire county and surrounding areas. Until recently it was thought to be unavailable. Stamford Stone has now brought it back to the commercial market supplying clients from self-builders to national developers throughout the county. Blisworth limestone was famed for it’s density and durability still present in the stone we are quarrying today. The stone has been widely used as a planners favourite in the Brackley area on the Radstone Fields development for the last two years. It can also be said that is has taken over the reclaimed/salvaged stone market similar in colour and variation, coming in coursed bags is also a big bonus both economically and in terms of labour making it a much more commercially viable option for developers.
For more information on our quarries click here, or to contact us click here.
A brief history of Blisworth – Before 1800, Blisworth had a couple of limestone quarries towards the east of the parish, quite near to the Courteenhall Road. They are marked as Lime Kilns in Bryant’s map of 1825. The quarries could have been opened in medieval times for providing stone for building and repair of cottages in the village. By the time of the fields enclosure in 1808 they were officially assigned to provide stone for road maintenance and, apparently, the Duke of Grafton instructed his agent to find a new quarry in order to sell stone. His agent (Mr. Roper) was actually already selling stone at the time and so he knew a likely place to establish a new quarry, that being just adjacent to one of the “road” quarries and in 1821 he opened it for business, opening onto the Stoke Road.
February 3 2016
Clipsham Limestone from our Medwells quarry has been specified for a large hotel renovation project in Cambridge. Building work is now underway to transform the University Arms Hotel and is expected to be completed in 2017. The loathed 1960s extension at the front of the University Arms in Regent Street has been demolished after Cambridge City Council’s planning committee backed proposals for a ‘neo-classical’ replacement to match the 1920s accommodation beside Parker’s Piece without a single objection (unheard of in a scheme of this scale!)
The works (to be completed by R G Carter) involve a comprehensive refurbishment of the interiors and the implementation of leading classical architect John Simpson’s scheme to replace the unattractive 1960s and 1970s extensions with attractive new classical buildings dramatically enlarging the hotel and giving Cambridge its much-needed world class hotel. Best use has been made of the existing architecture, retaining features that give the hotel its historic character and the new porte cochere, not only marks out the new entrance, but provides architectural ornament to the street scene.
A city drenched with so much history of using local stone, we are delighted that the architect specified our Clipsham limestone, in which its use had been noted for centuries, but has in the past on occasions has been overlooked in favour of cheaper imported stones, a testament to the architects aim …
“In Cambridge we are aiming to create something with timeless appeal: architecture that honours the traditions and creates an aura that is present in so much of the historic architecture in the city.’ John Simpson, Architect.
The University Arms holds a special place in the history of Cambridge. Cambridge’s oldest hotel, which opened in 1834 The hotels renewal is being led by John Simpson, one of the world’s leading traditional architects whose major works include The Queens Gallery, Buckingham palace and the Major development surrounding St Paul’s Cathedral.
‘John Simpson is widely acknowledged as the leading architect in the country of beautiful buildings that are both inventive yet classical and traditional so that they fit into the context of existing and often historic buildings.’ Professor David Watkin, Emeritus Professor of the History of Architecture, University of Cambridge
At the heart of the plan to restore the hotel is the removal of the unattractive buildings from the 1960s and 70s that obscure the attractive buildings from Regent Street, replacing the modern buildings, setting them back from the street in line with the buildings that adjoin, with an attractive, new classically designed building that references the history of the hotel and the site, Cambridge’s better-known architectural vernacular and the buildings in the immediate vicinity.
The extension will add 71 bedrooms, and create up to 100 jobs.