Once l finished College with three A levels l landed an apprentiship in Landscape Gardening and Stonemasonry, and after four years of learning how to make tea, l quit. From then on l spent 25 years building gardens for people, just garden construction, no planting or soft landscaping or gardening – just the bones or layout. During this time l honed my skills in many avenues, the first was paving. I went from laying precast paving slabs to building magnificent terraces, patios and driveways in Yorkstone paving, Limestone paving and Brick paving.. or a combination, and mostly in reclaimed materials, some up to 200 years old.
In London l became a Master Paver Mason, after 20 years experience with everything you can lay on the ground. The terraces & driveways that l have built often involved sweeping or formal steps, with brick or stone risers and stone or brick treads. Often garden designers and interior designers and developers, would bring me in to lay the garden out, constructing / building walls and paved areas etc, to their design… in preparation for planting and soft landscaping.
The second avenue of work that l also became more proficient in during this landscaping period.. was brickwork. I have always worked on imperial bricks or reclaimed bricks… they are better made than the cheap rubbish on the market now. I use the old and traditional bonds for brick.. like the Flemish bond or the English bond, along with all the old fashioned and historic pointing methods known to us today. So l found myself building many split level retaining walls, water features, brick piers for pergolas, boundary walls & piers and many house extensions (just the super structures). I consider myself a good bricklayer and an excellent brick mason.
The third avenue of work combining with the above was building in stonework, which in most cases was an incorporation with brick. Stone piers, pool surrounds, brick and stone buildings and any stone structure, from raised water features to jacuzzis. Here in Kent and Sussex there is a wonderful mix of brick and stone, both in walls and most period and / or historic properties. The most popular and available stone here is Ragstone, which can be obtained new or fresh quarried, and also reclaimed or previously used. Ragstone can be installed with a cleft face, or finished in a more random rubble style finish. Ragstone can also be laid on the ground as cobbles, and form a period looking path, shop Frontage or terrace.
So where l am now and over the last decade. Whilst still pursuing all of the above, l have moved into period / historic property renovation, as well. Restoring cracked and damaged brickwork, Spooled bricks, slipped or broken window and door arches. Cleaning & repointing brick and stone, replacing damaged brick and stone, repairing damaged elevations and entire properties that have succumbed to neglect of their super structure. Restoration of any masonry structure or building is something l would take on, and be happy to work with the heritage people. I am presently restoring my own house which is a grade 2 listed building. Period and historic building and renovation, both on the house and in the garden, is now using all my skills as a Master Paviour Mason, brick mason, and stone mason. My team is also well versed in basic civil engineering, and can underpin subsiding properties, install and / or repair all forms of drainage, including land drain and stench pipe, installing drain chambers for soil inverts…etc. Finally, l can build in reclaimed or new brick and / or stone, any extension of a property / house.