27 Jul 2017

Sourcing natural stone locally

There’s a lot to be said for using locally-sourced natural stone when it comes to adding a touch of authentic class to a self-build project.

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For Craig Morrell, Manager of Mone Brothers’ Blackhill quarry just north of Leeds, there’s a myriad reasons to utilise resources that have, after all, stood the test of time. Mone Brothers quarries one of the most distinctive, practical and widely used types of millstone grit in its own Bramley Fall stone quarried in Bramhope from a seam that stretches north, close to the centre of Leeds.

A Namurian sandstone, Bramley Fall is a moderately coarse-grained stone of the millstone grit formation. It is found in large blocks and has become a perfect fit for large-scale civil engineering projects as well as new house-building developments and self-build projects across the Yorkshire region and beyond.

Kirkstall Abbey, one of the first known landmark buildings constructed from Bramley Fall stone in the 12th century, lies just a mile or so away from the original, but now disused, quarry hidden away in the woods within Bramley Fall Park.

Craig commented: “Natural stone such as Bramley Fall will always add a touch of style to any project. Delivering a high-level of consistency in terms of performance, natural stone can fit in perfectly with both the built and natural environment.

“Aside from creating a sympathetic aesthetic appearance, there is also the issue of value that natural stone can bring to a particular project. Every self-build project is unique and an investment of sorts. By pushing the boat out just a little bit more in terms of what you’re prepared to pay for quality natural resources there’s a likely pay back further down the line.

“There’s a host of finishes as well that increase the options for homeowners. With regards to Bramley Fall stone, we can supply pitched, sawn, punched, coarsed, splitface and herringbone-style finishes. “We are also able to create an aged and weathered look through the blackening of the stone at the quarry prior to delivery. This, in turn, blends in naturally and won’t give away the age of a new-build property,” added Craig – who deals with many self-builders on a daily basis looking for bespoke ways to accentuate their projects.

“A display garden at the Mone Brothers’ Blackhill quarry provides a showcase of the potential of natural stones and gravels within a garden landscaping context, however, it is the supply of natural stone construction materials that accounts for a large part of Craig’s business at the quarry.

“There are many applications for natural stone within the build process. From external walls to internal decoration, Bramley Fall stone can also be crafted into corbels, heads, sills, copings etc. – and many more bespoke features as required by the customer.

“Bramley Fall is a very flexible, easily malleable yet strong material and our on-site stonemasons are able to create features to order.

“The vast majority of projects are bespoke so it’s critical to have the right knowledge and skills on site in order to provide our customers with products that exactly fit their needs.

“When it comes to cost you’ll inevitably pay a little bit more, but it will deliver unrivalled longevity. After all if it’s good enough for the 800-year-old Kirkstall Abbey, it will fit the bill for self-build projects!

“It’s all about personal preference, but I’m definitely witnessing an increasing trend to use natural stone as awareness grows. There was a sharp fall in demand at the height of the recession but interest has grown steadily in recent years as more and more customers recognise the value and benefits.

“By choosing the right resources and incorporating locally-sourced stone you’re helping your project to deal with everything the British weather can throw at it as well as creating a construction that blends in.

“Architects are increasingly seeing natural stone as a great way to help projects stand out as well as blend in. We sit down occasionally with customers and architects to go carefully through their plans and see how we can best achieve their required look and finish.

“There’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution. Every project is unique and if, as a supplier of natural stone, you can be flexible enough to work closely with your customers throughout the process then the rewards are there for all to see.

“It will certainly pay off in the medium to long term. Locally-sourced stone has a lot to offer!” concluded Craig.

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