Northumberland sandstone gets starring role at Olympic games

July 31, 2012 | Brenkley News

The north east will have an extra representative at the Olympic and Paralympic games this summer after sandstone mined in the region was specified for a key part of the Olympic Park. 

Around 40 tonnes of honey-coloured Blagdon Sandstone, which has been extracted from Banks Mining’s Shotton surface mine on the Blagdon Estate to the west of Cramlington, has been used as part of the main entrance walkway to the landmark stadium in east London, as well as paving in and around the structure itself. 

The stone provides a natural finish to the cladding for the structure and its position will mean it will be seen by both the tens of thousands of daily visitors to the Olympic Park, as well as millions of TV viewers around the world. 

The qualities of the Blagdon sandstone has seen it used as a key part of the £250,000 refurbishment at St Nicholas’ Church in Cramlington, as well as in restoration work in the centre of Edinburgh and other construction projects across the UK and Europe.

Around 140 people work at the Shotton site, alongside a further 60 people at Banks’ neighbouring Brenkley Lane surface mine, and the two sites jointly contribute over £20m every year to the regional economy through wages and the local supply chain.

Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at Banks Group, adds: “Seeing sandstone that we’ve extracted in place at the Olympic Stadium will be a very proud moment for our Shotton team, and they’ll no doubt be keeping a particular eye out for it on the television coverage once the Games begin. 

“Banks Mining strives to operate our sites in a safe, responsible and efficient way, and part of this approach is to extract viable additional mineral reserves such as sandstone or fireclay that we uncover during our coal mining operations.” 

Iain Kennedy of natural stone suppliers Realstone Ltd, which provided the material for the Olympic project to contractors Cavendish Masonry, adds: “Blagdon sandstone’s colour, texture and properties make it suitable for a very wide range of construction and restoration projects, and it sits well with a variety of other materials.

“We’re experiencing an increasing demand for the sandstone, and having such a prestigious project to use as a case study will no doubt make future interest in it even greater.”

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