The Natural Stone Show & Hard Surfaces - FIRST LOOK

  • Stone from around the world
  • More British stone than ever before
  • Historic England Conservation Area
  • Stone Award and Tile Award Galleries
  • Stone Federation Village at the heart of the Show with more than 25 members and the AGM
  • Co-locating with Hard Surfaces for the first time
  • MaterialDistrict feature showing 135 material innovations
  • Full supporting CPD lecture programme
  • All the latest innovations from the machine suppliers
Stone. Natural. Unadulterated. Formed by the planet we live on over millions of years. Every piece unique. Permanent. Solid. Reliable. Reusable. Sustainable. Versatile.
Simply cut from the crust of the Earth on which we live, it is designed, sawn and shaped by the ingenuity of people and used in all aspects of modern living – walls and worktops, patios and pools, urban regeneration and the most prestigious of modern architecture.
Igneous stone (granite). Sedimentary stone (limestone and sandstone). Metamorphic stone (marble and slate). Sourced in unlimited variety from every corner of the planet and available now from the British stone industry.
That is nature’s bounty that will be on show at the Natural Stone Show 2019 in ExCeL London, 30 April-2 May.
And for the first time in its 25-year history, this year the Natural Stone Show co-locates with another exhibition, Hard Surfaces 2019.
This new show is dedicated to the products man has manufactured to expand the choices of vertical and horizontal hard surfaces available. These are products that complement natural stone, expanding the repertoire of the stone industry that supplies them and opening exciting new design opportunities to fire the imaginations of architects and other creatives.
And as well as the companies exhibiting their hard surfaces (Caesarstone, CRL Stone, Quartzforms, Sapienstone, Ceramiche Keope and more) there will be a feature of 135 of the latest innovations curated by MaterialDistrict, probably the world’s leading match-making platform for innovative materials. These are hard surfaces at the cutting edge that most people will never have seen before to excite and inspire designers and fabricators.
The addition of Hard Surfaces 2019 adds an extra dimension to a visit to ExCeL at the end of April / beginning of May to make it even more worthwhile and rewarding. As Richard Bradbury, the Managing Director of QMJ Group, which presents the exhibitions, says: “Many sectors of the stone supply industry no longer supply natural stone only. While the Natural Stone Show is still the main event, it has in the past included exhibitors showing products that are not natural, quarried stone. That can cause some friction with those companies that quarry and supply natural stone. To try to avoid that friction as well as highlighting all the new materials now available it was decided to create the new show.
“By doing that we hope to demonstrate to architects, designers, other industry professionals and the trade itself the broader range of products now available from the stone industry. No doubt in many cases it will help them decide that natural stone is just what they need, but it does not have to be in every case and if an alternative is needed… well, here are some to choose from.”
The Natural Stone Show in London in its usual two-yearly schedule opens with an Architects’ Day that includes CPD-accredited lectures to help construction’s professionals achieve a greater understanding and appreciation of just what dimension stone is capable of.
The CPD-accredited lectures are part of a lecture programme that takes place during the three days of the exhibition. On Architects’ Day it will focus on presentations specifically designed to interest architects. On the following two days it will include presentations to discuss topics ranging from the new generation of products available from the stone industry to the most traditional of all stonework, that in the heritage sector of the market.
Chairing the lectures on developments in the new generation products will be Joe Simpson, Editor of Tile & Stone Journal and blogger of Diary of a Tile Adict. Heritage presentations will be led by Historic England, which will also have a stand in a section of the Natural Stone Show devoted to the heritage sector of the stone industry.
A central portion of the Stone Show constitutes a ‘Stone Village’ under the aegis of Stone Federation Great Britain, where 25 of its members will have stalls to show their wares and offer their services. Industry experts will be on hand to answer questions, there will be CPD-accredited ‘silent lectures’ (given through earphones) on the Stone Federation Great Britain stand and the Federation has chosen to hold its AGM during the exhibition because so many of its members visit the Show.
The stone industry’s other trade association, the National Association of Memorial Masons, is also supporting the Show. The organisation hopes to have appointed a new Manager by then and the Natural Stone Show should give the new officer a chance to meet some of the organisation’s members and, if the officer comes from outside the industry, to familiarise themselves with the sector.
There will be stone exhibited from Europe and further afield. European stone has enjoyed a renaissance of late along with the growing appreciation of marble and of the shorter lead times of stone supplied from Europe compared with the Far East. Italy, Spain and Portugal have all enjoyed an increase in exports to the UK of marble, but also other stones, including granite.
One of the Portuguese companies exhibiting, Airemármores, a family company that quarries and processes Portuguese limestones and marbles, has even joined Stone Federation Great Britain in order to assist it to penetrate the market in the UK and Ireland.
Airemármores celebrated its 35th anniversary last year. These days it exports about 90% of the stone it sells to an ever growing and impressive list of international projects.
Other Portuguese companies exhibiting include Dimpomar, Fatima Stones, Granitos do Norte, MVC, Natstone, Pardais Granites, Polimagra and Solancis. They are joined by other Europeans such as Marmi Colombare and Pietre Santafiora Srl as part of the Italian contingent, McMonagle Stone from Ireland, Grani Roc from Spain, Manologlou Marmi Granit from Greece and Stone Senses from Belgium.
Most stone arriving in the UK these days originates from China and India and there will be a good selection of companies from both countries exhibiting – some familiar; some hoping to break into the market. From China there are companies like Beijing Stars Stone Co, China YoYo Stone and Zhongguanshi Stone Industry, while the Indians include companies like B&H Stones London, Mehta Stone Consortium, Natural Stone Concepts and R R Paving Stones.
But there is also more indigenous stone being shown than ever before.
The geology of the British Isles is varied and interesting and there are some larger groups emerging to supply the stone it offers, some of them featured elsewhere in this issue of Natural Stone Specialist.
Indigenous natural stone can be particularly appropriate for housebuilding and hard landscaping, especially in those areas of the country where the stone helps define the architecture and create the sense of place, such as the limestone of the Cotswolds, the sandstones of many Northern towns, and, of course, London, much of which has been built using Portland limestone ever since the Great Fire of 1666.
You can see Portland stone in all its glory in London landmarks such as St Paul’s Cathedral and the Mansion House. And you can talk to Albion Stone, a company that is still producing it for major projects in London (St James Market; Chelsea Barracks), at the Natural Stone Show.
The Portland Whitbed, the Basebed, and the Roach are familiar enough, but at the Natural Stone Show, Albion is also introducing the rather special limited edition Ostrea Patch Reef Whitbed.
Another of the UK’s signature stones is Purbeck, also from the Jurassic Coast of England, and it, too, is just one of the stone ranges that will be shown by Lovell Stone Group. The company will also be exhibiting stones from its other quarries – its Chilmark and Chicksgrove limestones, its Somerset blue and white lias, its Hurdcott Green sandstone from Wiltshire and, above all, perhaps, its premium Hartham Park Bath Stone.
Not that it will be alone in showing Bath stone, because another of the evolving major stone suppliers, Johnston Quarry Group, will be exhibiting its own premium Stoke Ground Bath Stone following its acquisition of The Bath Stone Group in 2017, when it also bought the Hanson Bath & Portland reserves of Bath Stone at the divided Hartham Park underground quarry. 
Again, this is just one of the stones Johnston Quarry Group will be exhibiting at the Natural Stone Show on its largest ever stand, which reflects the growth in the ranges of stones it has on offer. It will also show Oathill Quarry Cotswold limestone, Creeton Quarry limestone and Great Tew ironstone.
From Bolton in Lancashire comes Armstrongs Group, with its five sandstone quarries and a granite quarry. Then there’s Cumbrian Stone, founded in 2006 in order to provide a high-quality sandstone product manufacturing service to the construction industry.
Cumbrian Stone has steadily grown each year and is recognised as a leading supplier of UK stone, with its products seen on many high-profile projects not just in the UK but worldwide – and, of course, major British stone suppliers are happy enough to quote for overseas projects as well as for projects on their home turf.
In the UK, Cumbrian Stone has notably supplied Whitton Fell sandstone for historic Knebworth House in Hertfordshire and St Bees sandstone for Carlisle Cathedral, which  won the Craftsmanship category of the Natural Stone Awards in 2016.
Other suppliers of British stone exhibiting at the Natural Stone Show include Stamford Stone, now the sole supplier of the celebrated Clipsham limestone for projects such as the Nazrin Shah Centre that was short-listed for last year’s top architectural award, the RIBA Stirling Prize; Gallaghers, the last company still quarrying Kentish Ragstone used for many new builds and prestigious heritage projects in Kent and London, including the renovation of the Tower of London; Johnsons Wellfield Quarries, with its highly regarded Crosland Hill Yorkstone, used for ashlar, walling, cladding and paving. Johnsons has just obtained planning permission to extend its quarry, which will secure supplies of the famous stone for decades to come.
There is Doulting Stone, used to build Wells Cathedral and still being used for restoration and new build today; Fairhurst Stone with its Whitworth Paving, famed for its durability and high technical performance and used throughout the UK in major public realm schemes such as Kings Cross / St Pancras in London; Gwrhyd Specialist Stone, a pennant sandstone produced by Artisan Stone Supplies from a quarry 1,000ft up a mountain in Wales. It was notably used for Cabot Circus in Bristol, a retail hub that serves the South West.
As well as all the international and indigenous stones you will be able to see at the Natural Stone Show, there will also be the latest developments in tools and machinery, fixing systems, adhesives, cleaners and sealants, as well as other developments the industry has to offer. We will bring you more news of these and other developments from the shows in the next (March) issue of Natural Stone Specialist magazine. And the April issue of Natural Stone Specialist is also the Official Show Catalogue, listing the exhibitors in both the Natural Stone Show and Hard Surfaces.
Register to get your ticket for both shows at: