Our directors, Andrew Ziminski and Andrew Sharland, met in the early 1990s whilst attending the Postgraduate Stone Conservation course at Weymouth College, Dorset. Both went on to gain further experience working for Salisbury Cathedral Works Department. Subsequently, Andrew Ziminski was awarded a William Morris Craft Fellowship by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.
This advanced training scheme, designed originally to train future Clerks of Works gave Andrew a unique insight into the most sympathetic repair techniques to historic buildings and best practice in the field. Minerva usually works in the area known as Wessex in the UK, but undertakes church monument conservation work throughout the UK and abroad.
Since establishing Minerva Stone Conservation we have worked as the principal
contractor on a large number of projects, including:
- Work to restore the cascade and serpentine lake at Prior Park Landscape
Garden in Bath for the National Trust.
- Recording and rebuilding of many sections of the medieval Malmesbury
town defences and packhorse bridges.
- Lottery-funded masonry works to the Kennet and Avon Canal at Bath
- Work for English Heritage-funded projects such as at Muchelney Abbey,
a Preaching Cross at Wick St Lawrence in Somerset and St Stephens Church,
- Work on many redundant churches for the Churches Conservation Trust
- Conservation of thirty 18th century Chest Tombs in the churchyard of West Lavington, Wiltshire.
- Extensive repairs to the medieval pack horse bridge in Bradford on Avon
for Wiltshire County Council.
We annually host SPAB Fellows and Scholars (craftsmen and architects respectively). Our directors sit on the panel of the FDSC Applied Architctural Stonework Advisory Panel at Weymouth College. We have also assisted with the (Heritage Lottery funded) faith in maintenance scheme. (www.spabfim.org.uk) and the annual RICS conservation summer school.
We are also happy to speak to the public and other interested parties about our work, for example, at Architectural Heritage Days at the National Trusts properties at Kingston Lacy and Corfe Castle in Dorset and more recently at Tyntesfield house near Bristol. We are well used to sharing our knowledge about the conservation of historic buildings and specifically the techniques we employ and materials we use which are crucial for maintaining the happy equilibrium of an old building. We always enjoy demonstrating plastering on lath and masonry skills such as letter cutting and architectural stone carving.
Whilst working at a redundant church in Luffincott, Cornwall for the Churches Conservation Trust we were invited to take part in the BBC's Restoration programme. Minerva appeared in a feature in the South West's episode looking at traditional building materials and crafts such as sheet lead roofing, lime plastering and stonemasonry.
[see video clip here]
Minerva is committed to the concept of training. It is a part of every supervisor’s and manager’s job to identify the training needs of their employees and plan for training tasks. The majority of Minerva staff have undertaken or are currently undertaking formal training of one sort or another. One of our team will this year be attending a one week intensive Traditional Masonry Course in the Saxon area of Transylvania, Romania. The site chosen is a live project, the house number 344 in the Saxon village of Laslea. This is one of the biggest houses of the village, which was about to be demolished three years ago due to its structural problems. Over the last few years the house has been restored by local craftsmen with the help of The Mihai Eminescu Trust. (with whom director Andrew Sharland has worked in the past).
Minerva recruits an apprentice every year working towards NVQ level 3 Banker Masonry. Training programmes are balanced between workshop and site based training, so that experience is given in all aspects of stonemasonry, conservation and the lime work. Periods of training are carried out at a stone masonry college.