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The award-winning York Handmade Brick Company has provided 30,000 bricks for the restoration of the historic St Albans Cathedral in Hertfordshire.

This prestigious 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 Cathedral.

“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 bricks.

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 shapes.

“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 added.

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 funders.

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.

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York Handmade Brick has excellent credentials in supplying bricks to high quality self build homes. Choosing the correct cladding for your property is vital to achieving the appearance for the house that you have in mind. By using a genuine handmade brick you can ensure the building has all the charm and character of traditional buildings of the past. Our Maxima Range of long bricks are in strong demand for self builds of a more contemporary design.
York Handmade Brick have the capability to either replicate or make to design bricks of all shapes and sizes in a variety of colours and textures to match or create the product required. We are fortunate enough to have manufactured bricks for several award winning heritage projects conserving the glory of the buildings for generations to come.
Our Maxima range or long format bricks have been in great demand in commercial and public type buildings. We can make these bricks to the architects specification in terms of size, colour, texture and shape as we have in the jobs shown in this gallery.