Exciting developments for stone paving

With over 400 years of naval history, stretching from the defence of the realm against the Spanish Armada right up to sending out ships to defend the Falkland Islands, Chatham Dockyard in Kent is said to be the finest extant example of a Georgian shipyard in the world, and following lottery-fund aided improvement works, it is now being considered as a candidate for World Heritage Site status. The historic pavements and dockside hard-standings witnessed legendary figures such as your man with the diary, Samuel Pepys, and Lord Nelson himself.

A new visitor centre at the site is nearing completion, hoping to open in time for this year's tourist season, and the natural Belgian Blue limestone hard landscaping on the 'Command of the Oceans' project was supplied by relative newcomer to the stone trade, Trans-European Stone , who were first encountered at last year's EcoBuild event and will be putting in an appearance at this year's Natural Stone Show, featured in last week's news item.

chatham docks paving
Belgian blue limestone paving at the not-quite-finished dock site

2,300m² of the stone was sourced from the quarry at Les Carriés de la Pierre, sliced into 200mm gauged widths with random lengths of 300-600mm, which was then tumbled to give a distressed, olde-worlde look Architectural practice, Mitchell Baynes Architects led the project, and their Alan Mitchell said,

"We decided to use Belgian Blue limestone for the external landscaping on this project due to its colour and range of textures and finishes. Its lasting durability will continue to welcome visitors for many, many years."

Judging from the photies, it looks like just the sort of place that is worth a visit the next time you're in that part of the world. All that lovely paving, and a bit of history thrown in too! What's not to like?

Pennant Stone has a history to match that of the dockyards, and while we might not see enough of it up here in the rock-rich north, it is an increasingly popular choice for prestigious hard-landscaping projects in Lower Britain. However, with landscape architects having a taste for fancy finishes, the Blue Pennant stone provided by Forest of Dean Stone Firms was missing out on potential sales because the standard form doesn't take kindly to the flame treatment. It's said to simply blow apart, and if you've ever seen stone explode under heat, you know that you wouldn't want to be standing too close when it goes off!

Managing Director Nick Horton knew that, the deeper you went into the Bixhead Quarry, the harder the stone became, so, if they went down deep enough, would the stone be sufficiently hard to take a flame?

Obviously, digging down would be expensive, but luckily, an old mine from the days when the stone was extracted in that way was still in place, even if it was blocked off.

Nick said,

"A light went on in my head, I thought I had to go down and have a look."

So, the company got the consents to re-open the portal and forced their way in through years of overgrown vegetation and accumulated rubble at the shaft entrance.

"We took a block off the edge of the portal and it flamed like a dream, so I told my guys to start digging in the quarry.

Having dug for king and country we now have six beds of this stone and from the evidence in the mine we would expect to find another 10 because there's about 30m of this blue stone in the mine"

Having all that stone available, the business has invested in a Pelligrini flame texturing machine and is planning to show the results at the Natural Stone Show later in the Spring.

flame texturing
Flame texturing of Pennant Blue sandstone

In the longer term, they are expecting to mine the stone, although there should be sufficient accessible stone in the existing quarry to last for three years or more.