The Merry Month: by Robert Merry

Robert Merry, MCIOB, is an independent Stone Consultant. He ran his own stone company for 17 years before becoming first an independent project manager and now a consultant. He is also an expert witness in disputes regarding stone and stone contracts. 0207 502 6353 / 07771 997621.

There was a disappointingly poor response to last months call for a name for people who travel to foreign cities to look at stone. So now I'm offering a £100 voucher you can spend with me.

Given that the white-stone-turning-yellow story is on hold (see below), we have to find some way of occupying the time, particularly as we are (or are not) confined to our rooms avoiding Coronavirus. I hope you are all well and no-one is infected.

If you are stocking up on toilet paper I would urge you to re-read my columns. In one, regarding leaving the EU, I did point out we only had a handful of paper manufacturers in the UK and should we leave the EU with no deal there would be a shortage. It didn’t seem to start any panic buying at that time.

There is no reason to buy toilet paper or any cleaning products and it seems there is no logical reason for any panic buying other than panic buying.

If we could start the panic buying of stone products instead, or even consultancy services... now that would be good. 

Several of my customers are worried about imports from Europe arriving at all, particularly from Italy, of course. It’s not that transport is prohibited, it’s finding the drivers willing to travel there and back. The prospect of spending 14 days self quarantined on arrival in the UK does not make economic sense for drivers - although the government has suggested they will be exempt from the quarantine. 

Until we find a vaccine I suspect we will all be avoiding travel abroad where we can. But we can plan... plan trips to cities with stone. And if we can’t go abroad we can plan trips to cities with stone in England now that's allowed again (but don't try it in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland).

Discussing suggestions of a name for people who visit cities to explore their use of stones with Simon Hewitt, who recently started his own stone estimating company ( we came up with the following:


It wasn’t a very inspiring discussion and I suspect I may be the only person in the world who actually cares about coming up with a name for people who visit cities and stare lovingly at the stone.

I’m reaching the 10th anniversary of this column and I worked out I will have written more than 100 columns and some 70,000 words by this time next year.

So in celebration of my up and coming ‘birthday’ I’d like to expand the competition and offer a £100 voucher to spend with the Stone Consultants (that's me) to whoever comes up with the best name for a person or persons who visit cities or towns or any stone buildings just to admire the stone and how it's been used. Send your suggestion to me at or leave your suggestion in the comment box at the bottom of this page.

Now if that doesn’t start panic buying in the stone industry I don’t know what will.


Update on white marble / yellow staining... 

Further to reviewing the geologist’s report the results have proven.... inconclusive. 

The report set out to identify:

1. The depth and bond between adhesive and stone.

2. The depth of the staining and likely causes.

This was successful to a degree. The bond between the stone, the adhesive and the screed was good. And the adhesive depth was within the manufacturer’s recommended tolerances... just.

Having identified the depth of staining and its possible causes, it was still unclear if this was the result of the alteration of iron sulphides within the stone – namely pyrite – or iron from external corrosion. The report did not identify organic growth as a likely cause from the samples tested but it didn’t rule it out either.

As the report was inconclusive, a more comprehensive testing regime is required to confirm the cause of the staining.

Needless to say, the pets are on notice of the impending return visit. I will have to leave this story for now. But I will return with the final chapter soon... I hope!