The award-winning York
Handmade Brick Company has provided 30,000 bricks for the restoration of the
historic St Albans Cathedral in Hertfordshire.
commission was worth £60,000 for the Alne-based firm, one of the leading
independent brick-makers in the country.
David Armitage, chairman
of York Handmade, explained that it was a great honour to provide for St Albans
“I think I am right in
saying that St Albans is the home of some of the earliest examples of brick use
in Roman Britain, so as a brick-maker, we are very proud to supply one of the
birth places of brick in the UK.”
St Albans Cathedral
stands on the site of St Alban's execution and burial. He was the first
Christian British martyr. The cathedral is the oldest place of continuous
Christian worship in the country and is a blend of architectural styles
spanning over a thousand years, containing some priceless original Roman
Mr Armitage said: “This
order is one of the most important recently for us. It includes 4,000 differently-shaped
special bricks. The order was originally for a competitor’s handmade brick.
Sadly they ceased production so they could no longer supply the cathedral.
Fortunately, we are able to move swiftly and match the specific handmade bricks
for this project.”
Bashkar Rughani, managing
surveyor with main construction contractors Thomas Sinden: said: “York Handmade
have done a magnificent job at the cathedral. Providing bricks for both the
Welcome Centre and the adjacent Chapter House, they have achieved a seamless
look with a great finish, which has been extremely well-received. The colour is
perfect, effortlessly blending in with the rest of the historic cathedral.
“This was a very
important and prestigious commission. York Handmade stepped in at short notice
after another British brick company had ceased production and was unable to
carry out the order. York Handmade acquitted themselves perfectly,” added Mr
Rughani. “They should be very proud.”
Catriona O’Neill of
Edinburgh architects Simpson and Brown added: “We have worked with York
Handmade on other projects in the past and have been pleased with their service
and the quality of their products.
“The project at St Albans
Cathedral involved the provision of a new brick and flint ‘Welcome Centre’
extension building, along with significant alterations to the existing 1980s
Chapter House building – both of which required careful replication of the
existing hand-made clay facing bricks which were made to bespoke sizes and
“We worked closely with
York Handmade to determine the appropriate ‘match existing’ colour ratios,
specification, and develop sample boards for comparison against the existing
building prior to order.
The bricks supplied by
York Handmade are a very close match to the existing brickwork and the
contractor has done an excellent job in merging these new bricks in with the
old. Both ourselves and the client are delighted with the end result,” she
The new welcome centre is
part of a major development project at St Albans Cathedral called ‘Alban,
Britain’s First Saint’ which was delivered in summer 2019 and made possible
with the support of The National Lottery Heritage Fund and over 1000 other
The Welcome Centre, featuring York Handmade’s
bricks, provides a new visitor entrance, retail space, interpretation and
exhibition areas and the relocated vestry. Alterations to the Chapter House,
which is now connected to the Welcome Centre, have renovated the existing café,
providing additional education spaces and improving accessibility at all levels
through the creation of new lift access and washroom facilities.