Acheson-Glover's Latest Catalogues
Although many British readers may not be familiar with their products, Acheson-Glover are one of the leading concrete paving manufacturers based in Northern Ireland and are keen to expand their customer base to the right-hand side of the Irish Sea. They produce an eclectic range of paving and walling units (along with other construction products) that can be used for all sorts of projects, from patios and driveways through to large commercial and civil schemes.
For 2005 they've produced two catalogues: Inspiration is a 28 page full-colour publication aimed at the home-owner, while the Specifiers' Guide weighs in at a beefy 56 pages and contains all of the technical info that is of more direct relevance to the Buyers, Contractors and Specifiers. However, it would be a mistake to think that either publication is suitable for only one audience – think of them as complementary.
I'll start with the brochure – the one aimed more at the consumer.
Rather than follow the usual paving catalogue format of having a page or two for each product with 'unit shots' of individual components backed up with images of projects featuring that particular product, this brochure features mixed products and develops themes, or concepts, and highlights potential uses for various products from the Acheson-Glover range.
So, we start with a collection of images showing the TerraPave blocks paving with the Anchor walling units, and then pages for Family and Cottage gardens, again mixing various products. There's a separate section for steps, walling, features, and a generous 'plug' for the facing bricks that are available from A-G. Overall the images are very good. They're not stunning, but then, too many stunning images can be counter-productive because it engenders the impression that such a lifestyle is not for the likes of me and thee, but for posh folk with fancy lifestyles and limitless bank accounts. These are "everyday" images, that could have been taken in almost any home or garden anywhere in these islands, and that, to me at least, is a very big plus. It tells me that these products would look great in my garden, on my project.
There's a brief mention for their paving centres, an idea that is popular throughout Ireland but is only just being recognised as a supremely valuable sales tool in Britain, and a sample of their in-house design offerings. The final few pages offer swatches of their various blocks, flags and walling products, to give a good general idea of the colours available.
Overall, this is a useful publication. It's not too heavy, not too technical, and provides the consumer with a taster of what's available from A-G without baffling them, as some of the larger catalogues we've seen this year are wont to do.
Turning now to the , this is a much more obviously technical offering, even to the point of having a CI/SfB library stamp and the tell-tale steel loops on the spine that aid with filing in fancy architects' offices.
The images on the cover, and those on the first few pages, are very definite commercial projects with a strong emphasis placed on the Ireland-wide use of Acheson-Glover products, from Donegal to Dublin and all points west.
The more familiar format of product-specific pages is used in the Specifiers' Guide, starting with the tumbled “Country Cobble”, which comes in 6 colour blends and 3 standard sizes, as well as the “four-sizes-in-a-pack” Cobble Setts. “Boulevard” might be thought of as a non-tumbled version of the Country Cobble, even though it's a face-mix block, as it comes in the same sizes and colour options. The Boulevard blocks, and similar offering from other Irish-based manufacturers, always seem to sell well, yet the same type of block is almost unknown in Britain and was withdrawn from the Driveway and Patio products portfolio of one of the largest manufacturers and restricted to their commercial products range. It's a stylish, neat-looking block that gives a subtly different appearance to all sorts of paving projects, but, for some reason (over-pricing and failure to market it properly, IMHO), it's never really caught on in Eng-er-land., which is their loss.
Next up is the TerraPave standard rectangular block, again a face-mix product available in 2 multi-colours (brown and red, or Creagh and Crieve, respectively, in Irish marketing speak) and 6 single colours. For real heavy-duty applications, there's an option to have polypropylene fibres added as reinforcement. We've seen this idea applied to flags before (see News 2nd March 2004 ) but this is one of the first applications for block paving, as far as I'm aware. There's also a permeable block system, based on the same colours and sizes: no real technical detail is given here but a separate brochure is available on request.
And then we come to the flags. Acheson-Glover have invested a lot of time and effort on their textured and polished products over recent years and it seems that at long last the oh-so-conservative designers and specifiers have cottoned on to just how attractive these products can be, and how they can totally change the aspect of a building. Not before time, I hear you say! For too long, silly amounts of money have been squandered on all sorts of design nonsense, and next to nothing spent on quality, distinctive paving – the same old, plain old B50s or D50s are used to provide the paved entrance to an expensive and fashionable commercial development. The TerraPave range of flags offer a distinctively different styling that looks a million dollars without costing anywhere near that sort of money.
The TerraPave flag range now features 8 colour options in the shot-textured finish and 10 colours in the polished version. There are two standard sizes (400x400mm and 600x400mm) with other sizes (500x500mm and 300x300mm) available to order, making them eminently combinable with each other and with other modular pavings, such as the blocks mentioned previously.
If you're one of the contractors that hasn't had a chance to see, feel and experience the TerraPave flags yet, I strongly recommend you get yourself over to the Acheson-Glover website double-quick and order a few samples. You will be pleasantly intrigued.
The remainder of the catalogue considers the accessories, the bits and bats, the complementary products that are needed to offer a full service to contractors, so there's the almost inevitable inclusion of a selection of granite setts, cubes, kerbs and flags that most manufacturers now believe they ought to offer. There's nothing stunningly new here – we're all more than familiar with granite, but there is a damned good photo of a courtyard paved with golden yellow granite cubes laid in bogens (arcs) that really ought to have been given much more space, as it looks like top quality work and shows just what it possible with these setts when they're laid properly.
Amongst the other 'Complementary Products' it's interesting to see the spacers and the pedestals featured, as these items are not normally shown in manufacturers catalogues. The spacers are cross-shaped units that give regular joint widths when laying dry-jointed flags and prevent edge spalling by keeping adjacent flags out of direct contact with each other. Pedestals are typically used to support flags laid to roof decks – surface water can flow into the joints than pass beneath the flags to a collection point without washing away any bedding.
They also feature the EasyPoint gun-applied mortar, which is claimed to be “quick and clean”, claims that several contractors of my acquaintance would take issue with! Brief mention of also made of LED lighting units that can be incorporated into paving units, a feature that is being requested by customers more and more each year.
While the info on colours and sizes was included on the individual product pages, the technical guff regarding pack quantities, coverage, and weights is given at the back of the catalogue in simple, straightforward table format. There are a couple of pages giving general information on laying course materials, British Standards, drainage, and the obligatory “Efflorescence isn't our fault” paragraph, and then a couple of pages of patterns, none of which are new or revolutionary. I have to question what value pattern images such as 90 herringbone, basketweave and transverse/longitudinal broken bond have in a publication aimed at operatives and staff that are, allegedly, technically competent. It would have been nice to see some generally original alternative patterns, such as those in the TopPave brochure reviewed earlier this year.
To round off everything, there are some nice images of machine-laying, something I hope to cover in more detail later this year. From the text, it seems that only the silver-grey 200x100 blocks are available for machine lay ex-stock, but I'm sure that, given the right sort of job, other colours and blocks would be made available. Given the current obsession with manual handling, machine-lay is becoming more and more important, especially for any jobs larger than around 500 square metres, and you can expect to see more emphasis on machine-compatible pavings from most of the larger manufacturers in the next year or two.
And very finally last of all, the manufacturer/product detail for NBS specifications Q10 (kerbs), Q24 (blocks), and Q25 (flags) are given which may be of some relevance to someone, but the link to the downloadable text versions will, I'm sure, be of more use to specifiers and architects that don't already have these clauses tucked away somewhere in their word-processing and estimating software.
Overall, Acheson-Glover have managed to produce two useful brochures that are well-suited to their target audiences. The Inspiration catalogue will give homeowners and DIYers a good idea of what is possible and what to expect without burdening them with needless technical bumf, while the Specifiers' Guide provides the sort of information needed by contractors and designers without appearing to be too driveway-patio oriented. The text is, without exception, clear and simple without being patronising, and I like the use of bullet points to highlight key features of particular products. The images are generally good and portray the products in an attractive and informational manner, although I can't help feeling that some of the images seem to have the colour washed out of them. Certain images seem flat or muted and don't do justice to the true depth of colour that is achieved with freshly-laid paving from Acheson-Glover.
You can request your own copy of these catalogues from the Acheson-Glover website .