THE PRINCE of Wales has praised a brick maker for its work on a pioneering Scottish restoration project
The York Handmade Brick Company supplied 47,000 specially-made bricks for the walled garden and the Belvedere folly at Dumfries House, in Ayrshire.
The company, based in Alne, near Easingwold, won the £50,000 contract to work on the project masterminded by Prince Charles, who praised the quality of the bricks at this month's opening ceremony, which was also attended by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.
David Armitage, the chairman and managing director of York Handmade, said: “We were glowing with pride about the quality of our bricks and were delighted when Prince Charles himself mentioned them in his opening speech.
“This was an extremely exciting and challenging project for us, superbly supervised by our sales manager Mark Laksevics. It involved creating bricks which fitted in perfectly with the ravaged boundary wall of the walled garden as well as unique specials for the Belvedere folly and the Education Centre at Dumfries House,” he said.
Oliver Middlemiss, the estates manager at Dumfries House, said: “We wanted this project to show off the best of British brickwork and these bricks, laid by our team of highly accomplished brickies, has certainly achieved that aim”
York Handmade was originally approached in March 2012 by Sam Templeton, the builder on the project, to supply a few dozen bricks to repair an area of brickwork on the Walled Garden wall.
Mr Armitage explained: “This did the trick. After providing a range of sample bricks for approval by the project architect Keith Ross and Prince Charles himself, we ended up with a substantial order for York Handmade bricks to replace and rebuild the dilapidated areas of the garden wall. This bespoke selection of our genuine handmade bricks became known as the Dumfries Blend.
“We were then approached by Hope Homes, a local building contractor who work in conjunction with Sam Templeton, to provide York Handmade bricks for the building of the education centre at Dumfries House
“Then, in July last year, we were asked to provide very specific bricks for the Belvedere Folly, designed by Prince Charles himself.
His decision to use a brick similar to those at Hampton Court led York Handmade producing the specific size, texture and colour bricks which would eventually be chosen and supplied.
“The Belvedere is an exquisite brick folly, full of delicate brickwork design, Arabic arches and totally bespoke handmade special shapes – a real challenge for even the most experienced brick-maker. Some items required individual hand cutting, which was carried out to perfection by Specials Production Manager Mark Todd and our excellent team of brick artisans,” added Mr Armitage.
The opening of the garden at Dumfries House came almost seven years to the day since Prince Charles led the consortium that first purchased the house in 2007.
In a speech thanking those who helped restore the garden, Prince Charles said: "It was always my intention in saving Dumfries House we should open the house and its estate to the public for the community to share and enjoy.
"As well as being a visitor attraction, I hope the garden is a source of much enjoyment and pride for the local community, which has done so much to support this house and estate."
The garden is one of the largest of its type in Scotland and had been neglected for around 80 years.