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Conservation and heritage projects were some of the stars of the show at the 2018 Natural Stone Awards, with award winning projects from the length and breadth of Great Britain.
There were several categories dedicated to the conservation and heritage sector, including Repair & Restoration; Repair & Restoration – Interiors; Carving, Lettering & Sculpture; Special Cathedral (Fellowship) Award; Reconstruction.
The work on all these projects was outstanding and some demonstrated truly exceptional examples of excellence in craftsmanship, project management and stone selection.
The joint winners in the Historic England-sponsored Repair & Restoration category were Inverness Townhouse and the Palace of Westminster.
In the heart of Inverness, the Inverness Townhouse project involved a two-phase restoration spread over three-years. Phases one and two involved repairs to the external stone envelope, rot repairs and re-slating of Scottish slate roofs, including new lead valleys, gutters and flashings.
Almost 3,000 hours of professional conservation repairs were exercised on the remaining original carvings, the Mercat Cross and various descriptive plaque wall face panels.
The Judges said this project showcased an exemplary range of skilfully detailed, intricate and diverse carvings, crafts skills and associated works.
The award given to the Palace of Westminster (the Houses of Parliament) was for work on Chancellors Court.
A particular challenge here was that this large and complex project had to be carried out without disrupting the business of Parliament. Achieving that involved complex programming and stakeholder liaison with representatives of the House of Lords, including accepting ‘quiet times’ imposed while the House was sitting, sometimes at very short notice.
The project welcomed apprentices from London’s Building Crafts College working alongside the principal stone contractor’s stonemasons to gain their level 3 NVQs in Advanced Stonemasonry.
The project was an excellent training ground for the students, giving them the opportunity to set out and work gothic revival masonry from sawn six sides blocks in the onsite banker shop.
The Judges described the project as crisp and not too intrusive, with new work successfully blending with the original to produce a highly successful and sensitive restoration. They also praised the approach of using the scheme to invest in apprentices, which added extra merit to it.
It wasn’t just commercial projects that enjoyed success at the 2018 Natural Stone Awards. The Kirkmichael project on Scotland’s Black Isle was a multi-disciplinary community project, 18 years in the making and supported by more than 50 individual donors and 30 contributing organisations.
The commitment by the local community rescued a severely deteriorating, nationally important Scheduled Ancient Monument and B-Listed structure from collapse.
The teams behind these three projects joined other category winners in receiving a hand-carved Kentish Ragstone trophy and certificate from the 2018 Natural Stone Awards guest presenter, Loyd Grossman CBE FSA at a ceremony in London.
This year’s Stone Awards will (Covid-19 willing) take place in London in December. Because of the pandemic the deadline for entries has been extended to 29 May, so there’s still time for you you to enter. To find out how, click here.