Stone­ma­son Rick is carv­ing him­self a place in his­tory

Glossop Advertiser - - News - Char­lotte Cox

AMONG the tow­er­ing cranes and cut­tingedge ma­chin­ery at the Ord­sall Chord site stands a tra­di­tional stone­ma­son.

The lat­est com­puter imag­ing was used to de­sign the Pic­cadilly-Vic­to­ria rail­way, but Rick Ma­son’s job is key.

The new bridge by Trin­ity Way will sit along­side the 19th cen­tury Stephen­son’s Bridge.

To re­store Ge­orge Stephen­son’s cre­ation – the birth­place of pas­sen­ger rail­way – tra­di­tional tech­niques must also be used.

And that’s where Rick comes in. Armed with his mal­let and chisel, he is shap­ing huge sand­stone blocks to re­store dam­aged parts of the orig­i­nal struc­ture.

In 1830, when the bridge was first built, there would have been hun­dreds of stone­ma­sons work­ing to­gether.

But Rick, who has been in the trade for more than 30 years, is work­ing along­side just two ap­pren­tices.

It’s an eas­ier job than back in the day.

The stones come to them par­tially-shaped from quar­ries across York­shire and Lan­cashire.

Be­tween them, they will make the fin­ish­ing touches to more than 30 UP TO stones which will sit atop Stephen­son’s bridge.

They have taken a tem­plate of each to re­place them as ac­cu­rately as pos­si­ble.

The stone has also been an­a­lysed to match orig­i­nal colours as pre­cisely as pos­si­ble.

Rick said: “It’s great when you look at how it was done all those years ago.

“We have cranes and mod­ern ma­chin­ery now, but some­times I look at the old work­man­ship and just think ‘clever guys’.

“Ob­vi­ously there were a lot more of them and they just had a dif­fer­ent men­tal­ity – they were re­ally, re­ally clever. You’re al­ways think­ing ‘how did they do this’? You have to work things out.”

Rick is proud of the mark he’s now mak­ing on Manch­ester’s rail­way her­itage – and the legacy he’ll leave be­hind.

“Once it’s done you know it’s go­ing to be here for an­other cou­ple of hun­dred years,” he added.

“Ev­ery­where I’ve worked I drive past and think – ‘I did that’.

“I’ll drive past with my grand­chil­dren and show them – and maybe it will in­spire them to fol­low in my foot­steps.”

Andy Part­ing­ton, from Stone Cen­tral, is man­ag­ing the stone restora­tion. He said there are some ●● tra­di­tional tech­niques they won’t be us­ing.

Andy said: “Orig­i­nally, these stones would have been lifted into place by hun­dreds of men with a pul­ley sys­tem.

“They were huge – they would have weighed the best part of two tonnes each.

“That would have taken an enor­mous amount of the man­power.

“When you see the size of the stones, and how big they are, you can’t imag­ine how hard it was to move them into place.”

Thank­fully, they now have mod­ern ma­chines at their dis­posal.

Peter Jenk­ins, ar­chi­tect director for BDP, said: “We’re mak­ing good progress with the stone work, there are real crafts­men restor­ing Stephen­son’s Bridge.

“It re­ally will be what we hoped it would be – the cen­tre­piece of the public area here.” UP TO

Work on the Ord­sall Chord and, right, Stephen­son’s bridge

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