A new national war memorial unveiled yesterday by the Queen was made with the help of a Stamford family firm – and a chance encounter with their 21st century robot technology.
Stamford Stone Company has one of just a handful of computerised stone-cutting machines in the country big enough to create the massive blocks used in the memorial.
The new memorial in the Victoria Embankment Gardens honours military personnel and civilians who served in the Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan, and those who supported them back home.
Director Dan Wilson said: “We’re very proud to be associated with such an important memorial. It was the ultimate bespoke job and a lovely thing to have done.
“All the staff are very excited to have been part of it.”
For the memorial, Stamford Stone, which has its head office in Barnack and a showroom in Helpston, produced 10 different blocks, each one weighing several tons.
When pieced together, they form two huge stone wings more than five metres high – one representing Iraq and the other Afghanistan – to frame a giant bronze medallion.
The highly specialised job involved pre-programming a computer numerical control cutting machine to produce the different shapes from raw chunks of Portland stone brought to Lincolnshire from Dorset.
The company, which has quarries in Clipsham and Greetham, was asked to take on the work by fellow business stoneCIRCLE, with whom they are working to refurbish St John’s College, Oxford.
Mr Wilson said: “We were hosting a meeting about St John’s and showed stoneCIRCLE our stone-cutting machine.
“They were already involved in producing the memorial but their own machine wasn’t big enough to do this part of the job, so they asked us to get involved.”
The task took a month to complete and was carried out in complete secrecy. The blocks were then transported to stoneCIRCLE in Hampshire, to be completed by hand before assembly at the memorial’s site in Victoria Embankment Gardens at Westminster.
Stamford Stone are no strangers to royal connections. They have supplied stone for Windsor Castle and are involved in the current restoration of the Houses of Parliament.
Sadly representatives from Stamford Stone were unable to be at yesterday’s unveiling, where the Duke of Edinburgh and Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon were also present, but Mr Wilson said a trip is being planned to London soon for staff to see the memorial.