The 238 pieces of Portland stone which will form a striking new setting for Preston’s grade two listed war memorial have arrived in the city.
Three truckloads of gleaming limestone slabs travelled 300 miles to Lancashire from the Isle of Portland, Dorset, on a convoy of three lorries early last week, before being moved to the city Thursday.
The precision cut stones will now be assembled to create the elegant arrangement of sweeping curved pathways, planters and planes from which Sir Gilbert Scott’s elegant cenotaph will rise.
Bryn Lisle, MD of restoration specialists Maysands, who is leading the £750,000 lottery funded project, was on site to greet the precious cargo.
Bryn, who this year completed an acclaimed refurbishment of Sheffield Cathedral – said the ultimate location of each precision cut stone was already known.
“Every pallet has a unique reference number, each stone a unique reference number.”
This phase of the work was imminent, he said, adding that Maysands’ site team remained on track to be finished ahead of Remembrance Sunday.
Site manager Dick Wisbey agreed, adding: “We’ll look to complete the brickwork over the next couple of days, and we still have some to waterproof, but then we can start placing the stone.”
Alison Cooney, Company Manager of the Oldham-based firm, was also on hand to see the stone reach the end of a journey she has followed right from the depths – literally – of Dorset.
The Portland stone is mined only on the Isle of Portland, a tied island in the English Channel.
“It’s good to have it safely on site,” said Alison.
“Bryn and I went down to the quarry and into the mine, and actually saw this stone as it was mined, and then into the workshop were we saw it cut.
“You can already see the transformation, now the cenotaph has been cleaned, but once the paving and planters are in place it will be spectacular.”