1939

In the Beginning...

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.

1955

Rebuilding London

During the war years and into the 1950s, USL specialised in the repair and refurbishment of historic buildings and made advances within the stone masonry sector through on-going war damage re-construction projects in London.

1960

Weymouth

St. John’s Parish Church Weymouth.  Restoration of Gargoyle.

1970

Expansion

The firm was later purchased by Diespeker Marble & Terrazzo Ltd. who continued the restoration operations up until the late 1980’s when it was acquired by the current owners.

1975

A Slice of History

A fantastic black and white professional photo from our archive collection, demonstrating restoration and cleaning to external stonework. 

1978

London Restoration

Enjoy an old stone masonry Polaroid from our collection.  Team member working on the London Pavilion (Corner of Shaftesbury Avenue and Coventry Street)

1979

Stone Working Methods

Another Polaroid from London Pavilion restoration project showing reforming lower part of circular window.  Traditional methods of stone working changes very little over time.

1985

Just for Fun

Old photo of Michael whilst Director of London Stone.  So young and sporting dark hair. 

1988

A New Leadership Team is Formed

USL’s current directors, Michael Whelton and Ken Donaldson take over the firm.  Both Ken and Michael come with a wealth of expertise in the stone and construction sectors (both formerly working for well-known stone companies in London).

1989

Savoy Court West, The Strand

Extensive renewal, repair and cleaning of the Savoy Hotel frontage facing the Strand, and the adjoining East and West blocks.  Almost 3000 defective faience blocks were carefully cut out by our masons and replaced with new material.

1990

St Mary Abbots, Kensington

Restoration works on prominent London church.   The present church structure was built in 1872 to the designs of Sir George Gilbert Scott, who combined neo-Gothic and early-English styles. This edifice remains noted for having the tallest spire in London.

1991

Syon House Park

Syon House Park is one of the last great houses of London and the spectacular London home of the Duke of Northumberland.  One of Robert Adam’s best examples of neo-classical splendour. 

1992

Restoration works at the prestigious Selfridges retail premise on Oxford Street.  A stunning Grade II listed building.   

1993

London Underground Projects

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.

1994

Hotels, Museums and Stunning Mansions

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. 

1995

Windsor Castle Fire Repairs

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.

1996

Royal Residence, St James's Palace

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. 

1997

Building Bridges

This monumental project comprised of the refurbishment and widening of Kingston Bridge.  The overall project was in the region of £7.4 million. 

1998

Tittenhurst Park

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. 

1999

South Bank Centre

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

Arundel Castle & London Eye

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.   

2001

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)

2002

Wrest Park

Wrest Park is a country estate located in SilsoeBedfordshire, England. It comprises Wrest Park, a Grade I listed country house, and Wrest Park Gardens, also Grade I listed, formal gardens surrounding the mansion.

2003

The London Oratory

Brompton Oratory also known ‘The London Oratory’ is a large stunning neo-classical Roman Catholic church in KnightsbridgeLondon.

2004

Residential Conversion

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

2005

Conservation at Greyfriars Tower

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.

2006

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.

2007

Elephants in England

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

RIBA - Heritage Award for Upnor Castle

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. 

2009

Craftsmanship Award for Heveningham Hall Estate

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.

2010

Arethusa ‘Diana’ Fountain, Bushy Park

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. 

2011

Union Chapel

Extensive restoration and conservation to this Grade II listed chapel and award-winning music venue in Highbury corner, London.  USL undertook substantial masonry repairs to the belfry openings, gable arcades, turrets, pinnacles and coping along with widespread re-roofing works. 

2012

St Nicholas, Peper Harow

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.

2013

Award-winning Guildhall Norwich and St Nicholas Minster

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. 

2014

Abseiling Masons at Framlingham Castle

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.

2015

A Year of Castles and Burial Grounds

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. 

2016

Cathedral Restoration

A big year for cathedral restoration projects including; renowned sites such as:  St. Edmundsbury Cathedral, Guildford Cathedral, Rochester Cathedral, St. George Cathedral as well as works at the Norman Colchester castle.

2017

Battle Abbey, St Mary Abbots Church & Osterley Park House 

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. 

2018

Christ Church, Kensington

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. 

2019

Visit our Portfolio

Over eighty years after its inception, USL looks toward a future bright with possibility.  Visit our portfolio for our latest projects.