A LIFE LESS ORDINARY – By Yeoman Mason Craig Sibley

Cutting-out indent on
coping

My name is Craig Sibley and I am currently working for Universal Stone in Essex as a stonemason. I did the Advanced Stonemasonry Diploma at the Building Craft College and graduated in 2015.

Cantilever Staircase at Copped Hall that we fixed.

Stonemasonry isn’t something I always wanted to do, to be honest I really didn’t know anything about it. I didn’t do great in school and after a while of not doing a lot, I ended up signing on at the job centre. I started to volunteer at the British Heart Foundation until I was employed in the warehouse. I moved on after a couple of years to a company which repackaged pharmaceutical products. This turned out to be the longest six months of my life. It involved mindlessly standing at a conveyor belt pulling a label off and putting a new one on. I quickly decided that there might not be much of a future in that. So I decided to start looking at learning a trade. Originally my mind was set learning carpentry but after visiting the stone department at the BCC and talking to the tutors there I changed my mind – it was going to be stone for me !

It was a tough course but really worthwhile. The tutors seemed to have unlimited patience for our childlike attempts square a block, but you quickly pick up the rhythm and before you know it you are working your tracery wondering how you got there. The course gave me a good overall understanding of the craft and a good solid starting point for what I hope is a long career in stonemasonry.

Re-fixing Quoin

Through Nigel, one of our tutors (Ed: Nigel Gilkison, Freeman of the Company), I got a job straight away with Universal Stone and have not looked back since. I get to work on a banker working stone as well as on-site fixing.

Coping stone with internal return.

Working with the masons there, my knowledge and experience in working stone, repairing damaged stonework, fixing stone etc. has dramatically improved. I’ve been lucky to work on some interesting historical buildings such as St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds, Rochester Cathedral, Osterley House, Battle Abbey, Abney Park Chapel, Copped Hall in Epping. I have also completed my Level 2 NVQ in Banker Masonry and hope to carry on my level 3.

I would to thank the Worshipful Company of Masons and its charities for their support, for without the grant I received it is unlikely I would have been able pursue this path and probably still be mindlessly standing at a conveyor belt with my brain slowly melting.

Balustrade Wall at Copped Hall.


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