Gwrhyd Specialist Stone Quarry is the trading name of Artisan Stone Supplies Ltd. Artisan Stone Supplies Limited was founded in 2006 by Phillip Rozze after Michael Walton handed the previous business, Building Stone Supplies Limited, to him in order to pursue a new venture importing granite from China & India.
Michael came back into the business in 2009 and the company took a lease on Gwrhyd Quarry in 2013 from Marshalls Mono Limited. Phillip Rozze was running a separate operation in Chipping Norton, Downes Stone Limited, as well as responsibility for various Marshalls Mono PLC sites with whom Artisan Stone Supplies Limited had on-going cropping contracts.
In 2015 a decision was made to separate the two operations and Michael Walton took 100% control of Artisan Stone Supplies Limited and Philip Rozze left the business to continued his expansion at Downes Stone Limited. Philip Rozze is a valued advisor to Artisan Stone Supplies Limited and his vast knowledge of the stone industry may be called upon if required.
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Below 150mm of topsoil was a huge seam of rock that runs right through the farm, near a fault line in the earth’s crust at that point. This rock was laid down from accumulated beds of sand some 370 million years ago in the Carboniferous period of Earth’s history. This was when the landmass that Wales was part of was closer to the equator and part of some tropical delta. When it became a quarry after the Pennant stone was found it became apparent that the sandstone is particularly resistant to weathering making fine paving and building stone. This stuff really was sand. If you look at it under even a hand lens you can see the individual grains. In the stone they are bonded together by a natural lime or silica cement. What you will see in the stone in abundance are marks made by animals that burrowed into the wet sand when it was the bed of a shallow sea or river.
The quarry is located on the Neath/Port Talbot/Powys/Carmarthenshire border and it is truly picturesque. It can be found at the end of a winding and, at times, precipitous country lane lined with sheep 300m up on Gwrhyd Mountain overlooking Cwmtwrch. It is roughly 12 miles north of Swansea and when the skies are clear you can see Swansea Bay and over the Bristol Channel to the coastline of North Devon.
We have a workforce of around 18 staff based in South Wales and administration is split between Gwrhyd Quarry and our Northamptonshire office. Our company mission statement is:
To provide the highest quality, Welsh Blue Pennant Natural Stone to the Building & Landscape Industries, throughout Britain, whilst ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our staff
The quarry was established in January 2000 by the Davies family who were farming the land and it was sold to Marshalls as a fully operational quarry. Some of the family members stayed on to run the quarry on a day to day basis and this was the operation that was leased to us in 2013.
You can also clearly see ripple marks caused by the action of the water. There are superb examples of this in the Pennant paving supplied by Gwrhyd at the main entrance of Swansea’s National Waterfront Museum. Here virtually every stone bears either ripple marks from some Carboniferous riverbed or marks made by tunnel systems, preserved forever in stone and destined now to be walked over by generations of museum goers.
Gwrhyd stone was still loose sand in a river delta, the majority of the creatures inhabiting the planet were basically large insects. There were the dragonflies seen in school textbooks with wingspans measure in metres and centipede the size of draught excluders.
Inundation after inundation caused by typhoons and tropical storms deposited layer upon layer of sand upon one another. The result after 300 million years of so of tectonic plate movement and vast pressures was the subterranean crop of Pennant stone that Gwrhyd Specialist Stone Quarry now harvests.