24 years at Haddonstone – and counting! By Graham Pears

Haddonstone is such a great place to work that many of our colleagues have been with us for over 30 years!  Graham Pears has worked at Haddonstone for 24 years and reveals what it’s like to work at our manufactory in Northamptonshire.

  • Graham pears from haddonstone photographed at the factory

My name is Graham Pears and I have worked at Haddonstone for 24 years.  I’ve been working with classical architecture products for over 50 years and before I started working with Haddonstone I was responsible for mixing special concretes and was part of the assembly team.  At Haddonstone I have been responsible for casting our stonework as well as finishing the products before they are despatched to our clients.

I have worked in a number of roles here and seen many changes over that time, however I am currently a stone finisher and I spend my day in our purpose-built Finishing Shed.  At Haddonstone we take the quality of all our products very seriously, which is why it is so important for myself and the rest of my team to ensure our stonework is perfect before being delivered to our clients.

  • Cleaning a Haddonstone Curved Bench Seat Support

    A Haddonstone colleague cleans a cast stone design in the factory.

A typical day at the factory

Once the cast stone products from the previous day have been acid etched, my finishing job starts.  Acid etching is a process we use for our wet cast products to remove the opaque finish we tend to see on the surface of the stonework after it has been cured in the factory.

Firstly, I inspect the products for any cracks and damage.  Minor damage to edges or small chips can be repaired, shrinkage cracks and any small visible holes can be filled with cement paste, which is mixed to match the exact colour of the stone.  To do this I mix a cement finishing paste and apply it using a bristle brush or a trowel, building up in layers until any chips and holes are no longer visible.  I will then use a cloth pad across all of the visible surfaces of the stonework, ensuring they are filled in tight.  Any excess paste is then removed from the surfaces and the stonework is left to dry.  All edges are rubbed smooth and square and the stonework is finally then rubbed with a light cloth before being moved to the storage areas at the factory.

  • inspecting cast stone designs at the haddonstone factory

What changes have you seen to the company and factory over the years?

Many changes!  The average age of our labour force at the factory is older – it’s a great place to work and so many of my colleagues have been here for over 30 years.

We now work with a lot more architects, developers and builders and so the volume of architectural products e.g. cills, heads, jambs and band courses has grown over the time I have worked here.

The facilities here at the factory have significantly improved, including the buildings, such as our new purpose-built Finishing Shed, which opened earlier this year.  There has also been lots of health and safety improvement such as to our cranage systems.  We have introduced more mechanical equipment to reduce the amount of manual lifting, which has helped with the speed and ease of movement of our products within the factory and has definitely the health and safety.

  • excess paste is applied to a haddonstone design in the finishing shed

What are your favourite things about working for Haddonstone?

The Management and Directors are approachable and you can speak your mind.  I am respected for my knowledge and experience and allowed to get on with the job.  Also – pay day!

  • the haddonstone finishing shed is photographed

Have you been involved in any interesting projects whilst working for Haddonstone?

Yes many.

The Royal Pavilion at Poundbury was a large, classical architectural project with many challenges.  I’ve been lucky enough to go and see the completed project and it’s very impressive.

The introduction of large steel reinforced decorative stonework and the production of large bowls presented us with many challenges – but they do look very impressive!

The development of new statues such as the four seasons Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, and the Poetry and Music statues was an interesting project.

  • tools used by graham pears in the haddonstone finishing shed

Do you have any interesting stories or facts about Haddonstone and your role here?

Every day has interests and challenges and every day is different.

Northamptonshire is quite rural and I have been stuck in snow drifts on my way to work twice.  On one occasion, a local farmer and their tractor had to save the day!  After leaving home at 3.30am I travelled 30 miles in heavy snow and then arrived for work at Haddonstone at 7.30am!

A bit of snow doesn’t stop a Leicestershire lad – we are made of strong stuff!

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