12 Dec 2011

Satisfaction for 2011 Trainee Mason of the Year

The 2011 Trainee Mason of the Year Jonathan Rayfield says it is 'a sense of satisfaction and fulfilment' that makes stonemasonry so enjoyable to him.

"I enjoy crafting the stone and completing a job by hand that will be there for all to see for maybe the next one hundred years or more," he revealed.

Jonathan (21) is employed by A.F.Jones Stonemasons Limited in Reading and won the award in the annual competition organised by Stone Federation Great Britain, the trade association for the natural stone industry.
Jonathan receives a perpetual trophy, tools to the value of £200, a cheque for £100 and a commemorative certificate. His employer and college also receive a certificate.

"I was given the news that I had won in a phone call and I was really pleased. We had a party in Reading with my workmates to celebrate my success. I owe a lot to my manager Tim Gash who won the award himself in 2006," said Jonathan.

He lives in Station Road, Cholsey and joined A.F.Jones in 2009. As well as in-house training he has been learning his trade at Moulton College in Northampton, which is renowned for its stonemasonry courses.

The award entries are judged by a panel of experts chaired by John Bysouth, who has been in the industry more than 50 years, together with Sean Collins, managing director of Boden and Ward stonemasons and John Western, who also has over 50 years industry experience.

Entrants were nominated by their employer and were judged on written documents and photographic examples of the work. Included in the entry were written citations from both their

employer and college lecturer. Judges then drew up a short list before visiting individuals at their place of work.

Jonathan's employer Angus Jones said "He is a creative and passionate young man with a huge talent for stone carving and stone masonry, He has a great work ethic and his attention to detail is second to none."

Richard Hoyle, advanced practitioner in stonemasonry at Moulton College added "Jonathan is an exceptional apprentice. His abilities far exceed those of other apprentices of a similar age and experience. He always wants to further his development and skills and will always strive for perfection. Jonathan is a credit to his employer and the stone industry as a whole."

Jonathan does have one concern for the future though and it's about the way machinery is now being used for some jobs. "It makes me realise how increasingly rare these skills we have as stonemasons are becoming. It has also opened my eyes at how hard stonemasons of the past must have worked to achieve such grand buildings and intricate designs."

The event was sponsored by Hutton Stone, Natural Stone Specialist magazine, Crawshaws, Vaudin Stonemasons and Orton Trust.


A.F.Jones was started by William Jones five generations ago in 1850.

It is currently owned and managed by Angus Jones, a direct descendant of the founder.

The company specialises in carvery, restoration, new build, stone cleaning and precision marble and granite work.

As well as the works at 33, Bedford Road, Reading it has a production works and showroom at Ipsden in Oxfordshire.

It is an approved conservator for English Heritage, National trust and the |Churches Conservation Trust.

A.F.Jones can be contacted on 0118 957 3537 or by Email at

Moulton College

Moulton College in Northampton offers a wide variety of courses in a number of different subjects, stonemasonry being just one of those subjects.

The stonemasonry area includes well-equipped workshops and resources designed to ensure that students get a realistic experience and are required to work to an industrial standard.

Different courses are available for different levels of expertise, ranging from improver to stonemason and ultimately 'advanced skilled stonemason.'

More information on the stonemasonry courses can be obtained from the Building Subject Manager on 01604 491131.

Members' News

Stone Federation would like to congratulate former Stone Federation President, Peter Harrison for being the recipient of the stone industry's highest award, the Duke of Gloucester Gold Medal.

Peter was presented with his medal by the Duke of Gloucester himself at Worshipful Company of Masons' Master's Banquet in London's Mansion House.

The Medal, which was introduced in 2010, is awarded every two years, to honour an individual in the craft of stonemasonry or the natural stone industry whose work is of considerable merit and who is acknowledged by his or her peers for the excellence of their contribution.

The idea for recognition for those in stonemasonry was originally mooted in the 1980s when it was noted that stonemasonry did not have any kind of recognition or a supreme accolade.


His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester, who trained as an architect and has an affinity for stonemasonry, also felt that some form of recognition should be created and was instrumental in developing the concept of a recognition for stonemasonry befitting the millennia-old craft.

Stone Federation are a member of EuroRoc, an organisation made up of the various European Federations for the dimensional stone industry.  The aim of the group is to coordinate questions of common interest and find solutions while promoting the use of dimensional natural stone.


The Federation's EuroRoc representative, Michael Poultney of Albion Stone along with Peter Harrison of Harrison Goldman, attended the latest meeting held at the Verona Stone Show in October.


There were a range of topics discussed, but shown are four discussions points that will be of particular interest to members.


1. Ethical Sourcing - There are various different degrees of controls of ethical sourcing across Europe and some is at a very local level.  It was accepted that the EU should be encouraging stones from ethical sources but there was some scepticism that a system with a high degree of certainty could be found in the short term.  It was agreed that the starting point should be to pool all the experiences from the differing methods currently being used by different, Countries, companies and organisations.

2. Geographical Protection - There was considerable support from across the EU and the robust comments from the UK were considered positive.  It is back with the European Parliament on what could be a long journey to possible implementation.  

3. Reporting Figures - There was concerns that the code numbers used for reporting production, imports and exports are not recording the dimensional stone figure accurately.  It was suggested that these should be related to the harmonised Product Standards (BS EN). Michael Poultney has been in dialogue with BGS and Eric Bignell at the Natural Stone Specialist magazine about the topic earlier in the month. Euroroc will progress the matter with the relevant authorities.

4. Silica Dust - There was a mixed response about the danger of the implementation of the dust regulations and the prospects of reducing the code.  It was agreed that the experiences from the implementation from national authorities will be requested.


With the island of Portland, from which the famous Portland limestone comes, being just off the Dorset coast from Weymouth, there could not have been a more appropriate material to use for a sculpture of the Olympic rings that has now been installed in the town that is hosting the Olympic sailing events. 

Burlington Stone has acquired the rights to quarry at Petts Quarry on Kirkstone Pass and Brathay Quarry near Ambleside following the regrettable demise of Kirkstone Quarries Ltd.

This new monument, costing £5 million, will commemorate the 55, 573 crew members of the RAF's Bobmer Command who were killed between 1939 and 1945.  The average age of those who lost their lives was just 22.

Albion Stone has recently purchased a new ‘JCB Fantini’, tractor mounted stone saw which will be used to increase efficiency in the Quarry & Mine.  This is the first machine of its type to be imported into any UK stone extraction operation. 


TV presenter, journalist and former conservative politician and Cabinet Minister, Michael Portillo made a fascinating tour of local natural stone producer, Burlington Stone of Kirkby-in-Furness, shown on 26th January on BBC2 at 6.30pm, as part of series three of the BBC’s popular travel documentary, Great British Railway Journeys.


A £500,000 investment into an innovative new roof for Albion Stone’s Factory is set to save thousands of pounds a year on their electricity bills.

Albion Stone supplied over 3m³ of Jordans Basebed and Jordans Whitbed in the form of treads risers, paving and memorial stones.

Taking centre stage on The Marshalls Garden That Kids Really Want! at the 2008 RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May the company utilised its own indigenous natural Yorkstone block to create two striking central features in this amazing organic playground.