Martin and Oliver Webb Fine Stone Miniatures. Museum quality handmade miniatures of stone carvings for the collector and connoisseur.
No. 85

The Cathedral Builders
A stonemason's photograph album
Page 2 of 8

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These following few photographs are of work being done to Hereford cathedral tower a few years ago.

This shot shows a stone decorated with Ball Flowers being worked on the banker by Oliver.

The banker shop in full swing. The bankers were made of wood, rather than the traditional stone, so that they could be taken out on site. The pipes hanging down from the ceiling are dust extractors, powered by an old corn blower. From the left are: Chris James, Toni Bassi and Derek Rumley.
Here we are somewhere on the north face of the tower, fixing the dressed stones in place.  The face peering out of a hole on the right of the shot demonstrates how thin some stonework can be; here only about 4 inches. The face, belonging to a stone mason called, appropriately, Rocky, was standing inside one of the four spiral stair turrets on Hereford Cathedral tower.

As I recall, it was a bright winter's day when this picture was taken, a welcome respite from the biting cold that characterised our time on the north face.

This is what it was all about. The finished restoration of the north face of the tower. The darker patches are where sound original stone has been left untouched.
The topping out ceremony of the first pinnacle we completed on Hereford Cathedral. From the left: Richard Powell, Chris James, George Rea, Simon Cartwright, David Hasleham, Oliver Webb, Nick Davies, Hugo Schofield, Alan Bedford. The Bishop's mitre shaped stone in the foreground is the topmost piece of the pinnacle's finial.
The following four pictures were taken on a recent visit back to the workshop at Hereford Cathedral. We are now looking at recent work to the east end of the Lady Chapel. This is a stone part worked, the setting out lines are visible on the right hand side; these are scribed into the stone and pencilled in. Ordinary HB pencils don't last until tea break when used on stone, so 9H are the stone mason's favourite. Accuracy at this stage is paramount; a badly set out stone won't fit and usually can't be rectified. 
This is a shot of Simon Hudson working the stone pictured above. He is setting a sinking gauge to the desired depth for carving out the next phase of the stone's development. Large stones like this can take a couple of weeks to work and are entrusted to the senior and most experienced stone masons.
Another shot of banker work in progress at the cathedral workshop. This is foreman stone mason Martin Lewis working on the early stages of one of the smaller delicately carved stones for the east end.
A view of the very fine work on the completed gable on the east end of the Lady Chapel. The cross on the apex is original, the paler coloured stonework is all new. The central stone in the window weighed about five hundredweight. Handling such heavy stones as these, which have delicate and easily damaged edges, in the confined space of a scaffolding can be very difficult.
This is taken in Shrewsbury, during the replacement of a large stained glass window. These things look so much smaller from the ground!

The fellow at the bottom, looking apprehensively up, is my good friend Tim Littlar.

Scaffolding is, of course, purely optional......

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