“The thing to bear in mind is that even though it got knocked down, every single window sill went into another house, all the flooring and slates went into another house”, says Stephen Porter of Stonebrokers on the recent demolition of Lough na Vale in Sandymount.
“Mouldings were taken and copied. All is not lost when these things go; they do go on to save other things, people want to put in natural stone, they don’t want a concrete product”.
It’s like Lutyens, he was asked about the steps down into the basement of Liverpool cathedral, and why aren’t you putting concrete cladding with granite? He said Portland cement was an untried medium, even though it had been around for hundreds of years. We presume he meant that in terms of millennia. At least with stone steps we know they will last. They all thought he was ludicrous at the time!”
Porter has accumulated over 17 years experience in the field of architectural salvage and has been trading under the name Stonebrokers since 1996. When he tells me that ‘there’s 10 times less energy involved in reclaiming a brick than in creating one’ it’s very easy to be convinced of the advantages of using natural and reclaimed stones.
”One of the things about using natural stone is that it’s sustainable. Whatever about reclaiming bricks running in and out of fashion, they are needed for restoration work, but natural stone is completely sustainable. There is virtually no energy involved in reclaiming a stone from the ground and hand dressing it by comparison to what’s involved in crushing and baking it and making it into concrete. You’ve got to pull up as much sand and gravel to make concrete as you do in stone, and at my current rate of bringing stone in from India it will take 78 years to extract one square mile, and only to the depth of 50 millimetres. People come in here and think you must be taking away the whole subcontinent of India but you’re not. You’re not taking the cliffs of Moher away by excavating the Liscanner. It’s sustainable, and reusable. We’ve had several cases of people taking the stone with them when they move and we’ve also bought back stones and resold them on.”
Indeed, he points out that in such cases stones often increase their worth.
“If a house gets knocked I’d say its steps will get removed and go up in value. The stuff is slowly trickling up all the time. It keeps pace.”
An interesting facet of Stonebrokers is that we can see their work everyday without even noticing it, as is often the nature with such restoration.
“In Ship St. we put in tons of brick, window sills, capping stones and railing bases. We supplied steps, parapets and wall capping. It would be very hard to pick what was supplied by us and what was already there. Every single week in the Irish Times I can pick out a house we’ve worked on and there’s generally a photograph. I couldn’t drive down any road without seeing my stuff somewhere. We were a nominated supplier down in Temple bar where we did an awful lot of bricks for the rebuilding of chimneys, and lots of window sills too. We supplied cobbles that were used in the road paving in various areas.”
Refreshingly Porter has a healthy attitude towards his customers too, keeping an eye on their long term interests rather than immediate needs.
“It’s a personal service. We understand the product and we understand the customers. We work with them where required. If we feel they’re ordering or specifying something wrong we’ll tell them. I’ve had to shoot myself in the foot a few times, and say they don’t need my stuff, but I’d rather do that than see it wasted. I think they appreciate it.”
For more info contact:
Tel - 01 2857709 Fax - 01 2857251
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