A STONE SIGN GUIDE
THE HISTORY OF PORTLAND STONE
150 MILLION YEARS IN THE MAKING
Of all the quality natural materials we work with, Portland Stone may well be the most famous. Used in the construction of many notable buildings across the UK, this quality stone is renowned for its durability and its distinctive off-white tones.
Portland Stone is a type of limestone that has formed over the last 150 million years on the Isle of Portland, a tiered island off the coast of England. It has been quarried there for over 1,000 years and, despite the ever-growing demand for this beautiful stone, it is estimated that supplies will continue to last for hundreds of years to come. It was originally sourced only from landslips on the east cost of the Island, but now quarrying takes place along the northern coast and the centre.
The stone has been commonly quarried since Roman times, when architectural style was that of grandeur, and it has been used as a prominent building material in London since the early 1600s. After the Great Fire of London, St Paul’s Cathedral was reconstructed almost entirely of Portland Stone, establishing it as the stone of choice for the city.
Many buildings of importance have since been built with this stone, including parts of Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, the Palace of Westminster, and the Bank of England. It has notably been used in the construction of political, financial, and civil buildings throughout the city, and it is now rare to find a street within central London that doesn’t include Portland Stone in some way.
Portland Stone was also used in the building of the Manchester Central Library, the Port of Liverpool building and Nottingham Council House, as well as the United Nations Headquarters in New York and many monuments in Washington, DC. Today, it is often carved into thinner pieces to provide an attractive and robust cover for cheaper materials such as steel and concrete. It remains one of the most popular stones available for creating both buildings and monuments, and it is no wonder why.
It is the excellent physical properties of Portland Stone that have encouraged its popularity throughout the years. The stone is especially practical for outdoor uses thanks to its weather-resistance and durability, ensuring that any structures made of this quality material will truly stand the test of time. It is also a stone that is very easy to work with, allowing stonemasons to easily carve into it for any required design. The versatility of this stone makes it a perfect material for a range of different stone products.