Grand Designs returns to BMQ

Every time we hear mention of the Grand Designs program, we feel nostalgic. Because it could be said that Grand Designs witnessed the birth of Black Mountain Quarries.

Every time we hear mention of the Grand Designs program, we feel nostalgic. Because it could be said that Grand Designs witnessed the birth of Black Mountain Quarries.

It was back in 2001, when Adrian (now Managing Director of Black Mountain Quarries) and Carina Phillips decided to take on the ruin of a 300 year old building in the Brecon Beacons National Park, and make it into their first home.

The building known as Points had belonged to former generations of Phillips folk. Sited up a steep hill with no vehicular access, Adrian’s father remembers running down it as a small boy to catch the school bus. (And climbing back up it afterwards). Abandoned after the Second World War, it started to tumble back into the hillside.

Faced with the choice of a nice easy starter home or an extremely difficult restoration with no experience in a virtually inaccessible location and climate known for occasional torrential rain, the young couple gamely chose the latter.

Aired in August 2001, “Grand Designs: The Isolated Cottage” captured the highs, lows, pitfalls and occasional landslips that went into restoring Points into a family home.

In order to get approval from the local planning authority, it was essential to match the original stone for restoring the outer building walls, the barn and the roof. Weather and lack of road notwithstanding, Adrian and Carina found that their biggest challenges in undertaking an extensive restoration / self build were finding the right quality materials, in the right quantities, locally.

This challenge eventually led Adrian to open a shallow stone quarry on his father’s farm a couple of miles down the road at Tybubach. This venture was initiated and fully supported by the local authorities, who recognised the importance of finding a sustainable source of building, walling and roofing stone that would enable local historic buildings to be restored faithfully, and with natural materials that maintained the integrity of the original architecture.

Having found a source of block stone, and founded Black Mountain Quarries, it soon became clear that this stone was ideal for building and walling but not for flagstones, cills, hearthstones, coping or roofing – and Points needed all of that too. An identical matching sandstone, albeit naturally thin-bedded, was available a few miles down the road at the Llandraw Quarry.

Black Mountain Quarries went on to acquire the quarry at Llandraw, followed by our red sandstone quarry at Callow on the Monmouthshire-Herefordshire border, and most recently the silver-grey granite quarry at De Lank in Cornwall. We’re determined that local stone should be available, sustainable and affordable for building and landscaping projects across the UK. So if you are undertaking a new build, a restoration, a garden or landscaping project, as a domestic or commercial customer, we do our utmost to provide the products and experience that will help deliver a successful outcome for you.

Nearly fourteen years later, Grand Designs returned to Points in March 2015 to see how the epic building project had fared. The results will be aired later this year in July / August. The photos here offer a sneak preview.