USL was first established over 80 years ago and much has happened since then. Scroll along this timeline to discover a little more about our heritage and pedigree.
We are passionate about conservation, regeneration and unlocking value to create sustainable futures for our clients’ sites. We work to the highest standards within our client’s aspirations, requirements, and budgets.
As each site is intrinsically unique, we bring together a core team with great commitment, skill, and enthusiasm to extend the life of extraordinary places.
From humble beginnings to bold ambitions, Universal Stone Ltd is a thriving privately owned company with roots dating back to 1939.
The company’s inception starts with Killby & Gayford. A well-known restoration and building company with an elaborate history dating back to the 1860s.
Brick restoration work across a variety of Tube Stations specializing in brickwork, stone, glazed titles and faience.
During the 1990s, USL worked on a number of sensitive restoration projects with the London Underground including Chalk Farm Station, Holland Park, Bank Tube, Queensway and Elephant and Castle.
In 1994, USL carried out numerous restoration works in and around London on commercial buildings, hotels, museums and stunning mansions including; Bank of England, Bradmore House, Carlton House, Regent Hotel (now known as the Landmark), Banco Do Brasil, National Portrait Gallery, Natural History Museum, Fishmongers Hall, and Clements House.
USL carried out stone masonry and restoration works following the disastrous fire in the State Apartments at Windsor Castle in 1992. The damage destroyed 115 rooms, including nine staterooms and the vast medieval St George’s Hall. The castle suffered extensive damage and was fully repaired within the next few years at a cost of £36.5 million, in a project led by the conservation architects Donald Insall Associates.
St James's Palace has been the setting for some of the most important events in Royal history, having been a residence of Kings and Queens of England for over 300 years until the reign of Queen Victoria. As the home of several members of the Royal Family and their household offices, St James’s Palace today hosts up to 100 receptions each year for charities associated with members of the Royal Family. The building has undergone numerous transformations and restoration projects.
Once the home of John Lennon, the property was purchased by Abu Dhabi royal family in 1989 (Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates). Before his death, he commissioned a vast lake to be created with the construction of a new palatial Grecian styled summerhouse in Portland stone complete with Doric-styled columns.
Established in 1951, a leading London performance venue located within South Bank Centre. The hall was built used modernism’s materials such as; reinforced concrete, alongside more luxurious elements including beautiful woods and Derbyshire fossilised limestone. USL carried out restoration work on concrete and tile façade as well as internal flooring.
2000 was contrasted with vastly different projects including Arundel Castle restoration and the London Eye.
USL took part in the enabling works to get The London Eye into position from its riverside position. The A-frame cantilever design is supported from one side only, anchored to the top of the frame and then buried in a concrete foundation 108 feet (33 meters) deep.
Arundel castle is a restored and remodelled medieval castle in Arundel, West Sussex. USL was commissioned to carry out conservation alteration works to accommodate new café as well as a stone fountain in the garden courtyard.
Granite cladding restoration works at the well-known ‘Richard Seifert’ multi-let building at 2 Lambeth Hill on the banks of the river Thames.
William Morris Gallery is Morris's former family home, the 18th-century Water House in Walthamstow. Restoration works involved dismantling and rebuilding of the front stone cornice, joinery repairs, overhaul of roof slopes, leadwork and sensitive redecoration.
2001 also saw the amazing feat of engineering and transportation of a Victorian water town from Kings Cross to it’s new home at St Pancras Basin. The works involved the construction of a new plinth, an intermediate floor, viewing platform and restoration of brickwork. (Find out more in our case studies)
Ludshott Manor (formerly known as Woolmer Lodge) is a Grade II listed 16th century manor near Bramshott in Hampshire, designed in a Gothic style by P. F. Robertson.
The manor was converted in 2004 into 23 stunning high specification houses and apartments. USL were involved in the sympathetic restoration and renovations
Universal Stone was the Principal Contractor to carry out extensive conservation works to Greyfriars Tower, King’s Lynn along with the re-landscaping of the surrounding gardens.
This Grade I listed building and Scheduled Ancient Monument, is one of Norfolk’s most important historic buildings. The project received numerous awards, including the 2007 RIBA Eastern Region Heritage Award.
Also known as the ‘Metropolitan Cathedral Church of St George’ RC.
The Cathedral was badly bombed during World War II and the rebuilt Cathedral was opened in 1958. Since then it has resumed its role as a focal point in the local community and has played host to many notable visitors, including the Dalai Lama (1998) and Pope John Paul II (1982). USL was commissioned with the external conservation to the brick, stone and metalwork.
USL carried out the masonry and hard landscaping works for the 'Elephant Circle' seat sculpture, by Nicholas Dimbleby, in Jephson Gardens, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire.
Leamington has a unique connection to elephants, as the first elephant trainer in England was Sam Lockhart, born to a circus family in Leamington in 1850. Sam brought three elephants back from Ceylon and taught them tricks. His circus was a grand building by the River Leam.
2008 was a castle year with a number of prominent projects leading to winning the prestigious RIBA - Heritage Award. As principal contractor USL undertook a variety of essential restoration works at Upnor castle including replacement of eroded stones, repairs and repointing. The river level works were skillfully carried out between tides in four-hour shifts using St. Astier hydraulic lime mortar incorporating Prompt, a special additive to promote curing in water environments. Bodiam featured much similar conservation and restoration works to deteriorated stonework including complex cantilevered scaffolding over the moat to enable works.
Winner of the Suffolk Association of Architects 2009 – Craftsmanship Award.
USL undertook a very interesting project at Heveningham Hall Estate to construct a new three-arched bridge. The works included the demolition of the existing derelict bridge and replacement with new stone clad bridge utilising CFA pile foundations, reinforced concrete frame with extensive timber formwork.
USL carried out detailed conservation works to this magnificent Portland stone and marble fountain known as Arethusa ‘Diana’ in Bushy Park, Middlesex. Restoration included the reinstatement of the gravity-fed fountain sprays and overhauling, re-gilding and re-patinating the main Diana statue, nymphs, bowls and fish.
Almost completely destroyed by extensive fire in 2007, USL was commissioned to carry out conservation and masonry works. Extensive reconstruction of the roofs, restoration and replacement of marble columns, repair and conservation of Pugin’s ceilings (Augustus Pugin – English Architect/Designer) to the Middleton Chapel and the Chancel, and complete reconstruction of the Tower floors and lead covered roof. The restoration project was Highly Commended in the Repair and Restoration category in the Natural Stone Awards 2012.
Founded in 1101, the magnificent Grade II listed minster the third largest parish church in England, behind Beverley Minster (3489m2) and Christ Church Priory (2815m2).
St. Nicholas Minster underwent extensive restoration including the dismantling and rebuilding of the tower pinnacles and parapet walls in Ancaster limestone.
Award-winning Guildhall Norwich
This 15th Century received broad repairs and restoration to the external façade and full refurbishment to the clock tower. The conservation works received two awards from the Norwich Society in 2013 including the prestigious Sir Bernard Feilden Lion Award for outstanding conversation.
12th century fortress and Scheduled Ancient Monument Framlingham Castle undergoes restoration project to high wall walkway and footbridges as well as isolated repairs and rebuilding works to existing masonry walls and stone chimneys. USL also rebuilt the entrance arch over the moat.
Major projects for 2015 incorporated restoration work at Leeds Castles, Muslim Burial Ground and Colchester Castle, to name a few. At Leeds Castle, USL specialists undertook external stonework and glazing refurbishment to the gloriette located within the lake on the Leeds Castle Estate.
Muslim Burial Ground restoration included to the restoration of the Grade II listed former military burial ground (with its Islamic-styled peace garden) to its original appearance as built in 1917. Brick and masonry repairs, specialist cleaning, new gates and new copper finial to domed entrance arch.
USL was appointed as Principal Contractor for the Conquest and Consequences Project at this stunning Grade I Listed and Schedule Ancient Monument, Battle Abbey in East Sussex. The project objectives were to transfer this popular English Heritage location into a modern year-round visitor attraction including constructing a roof-top viewing platform on the central Gatehouse.
USL was pleased to be appointed as Principal Contractor to carry out the internal reordering and external works to the east end of the Grade II Listed Christ Church, Kensington.
The specialised works comprised of managing and constructing a new two-stage rising stage situated in front of the notable chancel arch as well as new steps to pulpit.
USL saw another productive year protecting local treasures, from educational institutions to churches and buildings. The photos we featured include; a stunning Anglican church in the renowned COL cemetery, one of the oldest refectories in England set in the grounds and ruins of the Priory of St Martin and the Grade II listed Evangelical St Simon Zelotes in Chelsea.
It goes without saying that 2020 was an unimaginable year. We were pleased to be able to adapt our working methods to continue progressing with our restoration projects. Our projects included heritage roofing at Creeksea Place Manor in Essex, lighting installation in Colchester town centre, extensive internal and external restoration at St George’s Church Headstone and roof restoration at one of the best preserved monastic sites in England Castle Acre Priory.
2021 was another interesting year working under Covid secure procedures across a number of prominent projects. Including the important medieval church of St Leonard's in Flamstead and the Palladian villa Marble Hill House.
Have a look at our news and social media for project updates.
Moving into the new year, our USL teams are keeping themselves very active working on various restoration and building projects across London and the South East. Including saving crumbling spires at Spire House in London, Colchester Sixth Form College, St Dunstan-in-West, St Gabriel Church and the prestigious Art Deco landmark Nell Gwynn House.
Restoring, reshaping and reusing our heritage spaces is vital to creating a sustainable future and investing in healthy, local communities.