When people think about stone masonry, they perhaps imagine the processes that manufacturers must go through when kitting out a new home or carrying out a refurb at a local business premises. But for those at the top of their game, there is an opportunity to see some of the most wondrous sights on the planet.
This is something that certainly rings true for UK-based firm J Rotherham, which has built on a long standing reputation over the years and been commissioned to transform some truly iconic structures.
When the world’s rich and famous need modifications carrying out on their most prized possessions, the bespoke services that stonemasons can provide in terms of producing output to an exact standard is invaluable.
Joe Rotherham, who is the Managing Director of the firm, explained how back in the 1980s, he and his colleagues gained a unique insight into one of the most luxurious feats of engineering in history when they were asked to work on the staircases of the Saudi royal yacht.
Officially named the Abdulaziz, the yacht required the company to work somewhat out of their comfort zone. However, Joe explained that with the right planning and personnel, it is possible to produce even the most prestigious commissions to the highest standard.
He recounted: “This was in about 1984. It was done in Vospers in Southampton, who were doing the fit-out. It was unusual in those days because it was done in the dry dock, whereas the normal fit-outs are done in the wet dock because of the compression on the hull.”
This brought with it an element of uncertainty that the firm did not have to regularly deal with. The masons themselves – and the subcontractors they employed – had to work with estimates on the measurements that were needed for the staircases, allowing for the compression that would occur when they were eventually lowered into the water.
Although this might sound like a high-pressure task, it is something J Rotherham carried out so successfully that the firm was subsequently commissioned to do further work on the marble bathrooms in the Abdulaziz. And that’s not the only high-profile job the company has been asked to handle.
More recently – in the lead-up to the 2010 Ryder Cup to be exact – the firm was employed to help build a brand new resort at the Celtic Manor golfing resort in South Wales. The construction was a huge commercial project and J Rotherham was drafted in to install around £1 million worth of marble.
The result is that some of the planet’s most famous sporting heroes have resided in the building, at which the company supplied a swimming pool, the entrance and foyer, bathroom toilets and the hotel bar – a task that Joe remembers taking “15 months” to complete.
But what about those who prefer to enjoy their luxuries in sunnier climates? You guessed it, British stonemasons are their first port of call as well.
This was a situation that J Rotherham again found itself in when asked to work on the top-of-the-range La Serenada apartment in the French seaside resort of Antibes. A private client approached the firm and asked if they could carry out a premium fit-out, creating a high-end interior to match the existing floral patterns that were found on the property’s curtains.
Joe explains that for jobs as important as this one, extra measures have to be taken to ensure the correct resources are on site. He added: “We did a mobile workshop out of a 7.5 tonne vehicle.
“It started as an empty van and it was a question of putting a generator in to run like a saw and some small equipment so that you could do onsite work. It was another interesting adaptation to make the job work better.”