Two of the most popular stones in London are Portland and York stone. Portland, a Jurassic limestone, quarried on the Isle of Portland in Dorset, has been used extensively for building construction in London. This elegant, creamy, white stone is a popular choice for steps and entrance ways, adding a touch of luxury and prestige to your home. York stone is a durable, hard-wearing sandstone that is quarried exclusively in Yorkshire. It has been used for construction since the Roman times. The majority of street paving and cobbles in London are made from York stone. It is a popular choice for exterior paving and entrance ways. The naturally warm colour adds a rustic, homely feel to any property.
But have you ever considered how a stone supplier transports such heavy stone from the quarry? In ancient Egypt, during the construction of the pyramids, giant slabs of rock were hauled with pulley systems, using ropes and moveable wooden tracks and sleds. Thousands of slaves and oxen would drag the rocks to the riverside where they were loaded onto specially constructed barges.
Today, mechanical systems are used, however, even with modern technology, removal of quarried stone is a time-consuming and laborious task. On the Isle of Portland, traditional excavation methods are still used to a certain extent. Specialised digging and drilling equipment is used to clear the overlying rock layers and bring the Portland stone to the surface. Explosives are rarely used in modern quarrying. They have been replaced by wire saws; a more efficient and faster way of cutting the stone out of the rock face. Cut blocks are displaced using water-filled hydraulic bags which uses force to remove the stone, causing minimum damage. Large wheel loaders are then used to easily remove the stone.
Portland stone is also mined. Underground mining is considered more environmentally friendly than open-surface rock excavation. Stone excavation takes place under the surface, avoiding the need to remove the over-lying rock, reducing the visual disturbance of the landscape. Individual chunks are sliced by a dry-cutting machine, then specialist lifting vehicles are used to transport the cut rock to the surface. Before the construction of the Merchant’s railway, in 1902, suppliers on Portland used horse- drawn tramways to transport the rocks to sea barges at Castletown. Today, the stone is exported from the island by articulated trucks.
Used for construction since the Roman times, the use of York stone was originally limited to the local area using canal barges to move the heavy stone. In the 19th Century, the railways replaced canals for commercial transportation, allowing York stone to be transported to other areas of the country. Railways are still used today as an alternative for long-distance haulage. Coastal quarries also use sea transportation. Barges located at Gravesend are an effective and environmentally friendly way of transporting heavy good directly into the heart of London. In Yorkshire, many quarries today have on-site processing facilities. Once the stone is removed, it is designed, cut and shaped to various sizes according to the customer’s requirements.
Specialist haulage companies are used to deliver large blocks of stone directly from the quarry. York stone is transported to the stone supplier by rigid chassis construction trucks and articulated lorries. These vehicles are designed to travel on unsealed quarry surfaces and normal roads. Some mining vehicles can transport up to 350 tonnes. All terrain fork lift trucks are then used to load and unload the slabs. Delivery of small orders can be offloaded using a tail lift and hand fork truck.
The London Stone Step company are one of the most experienced stone suppliers of Portland and York stone in the London and South-East area. We pride ourselves on supplying the highest quality stone, directly sourced from selected quarries in Dorset and Yorkshire. Contact us today to discuss your delivery and installation requirements.