Here is where it all started for us, in Tybubach at the foot of the Black Mountains. This land is the site of the family farm where Adrian Phillips, the founder of Black Mountain Quarries, was born. Beneath the farmland lies stone that has been used throughout the ages in the construction of local buildings.
Little is known about the early history of quarrying at Tybubach. Local folk know that it was once a ‘delf’ – a shallow and relatively small area of land from which stone is dug – and that the stone had been used for regional buildings in times gone by. However no records existed. The land at Tybubach had supported a mixed livestock and arable farm for as long as anyone could remember.
In the late 90s Adrian Phillips was working abroad. During this time his father was approached by the local authorities who needed stone for the restoration of Dore Abbey, and were investigating possible local sources. The Abbey, built in the late 12th century, was falling into disrepair. The roof tiles were breaking up, leaving many parts of the building at risk. The local authority gave planning permission to re-open the delf and requested trials on the stone. (It eventually transpired that the stone at Tybubach is better suited for masonry blocks rather than tiles, so was considered unsuitable for the roof of Dore Abbey).
Grey green sandstone products from Tybubach Quarry
Adrian’s father was due to retire and had no desire to start a new business. Adrian and his wife Carina, however, had a strong interest in restoration work using local, natural materials. Shortly after returning to the UK they set about restoring the ruins of his grandfather’s 300-year-old stone cottage, a couple of miles from Tybubach in the Brecon Beacons. The results were aired on the Grand Designs program (‘Isolated Cottage in Wales’, Series 2, August 2001).
The restoration, although challenging at the time, ignited a passion that led Adrian and Carina to open the delf at Tybubach to supply local demand for building, restoration and conservation stone. (The delf is on the edge of the farm, which has been left intact as a small-holding). The stone proved highly popular, and customers began to enquire about other qualities of stone as well as different colours and finishes. The business was expanded to acquire local quarries at Llandraw (for roofing and paving stone) and Callow (for redstone), and the DeLank quarry in Cornwall (for silver grey granite). Over the last decade Adrian has also forged partnerships with quarries worldwide, in order to satisfy demand for more variety.