Regeneration: Church Street & Diamond Jubilee Square, Abertillery

As part of the £250,000 regeneration of Abertillery, in the heart of the Welsh Valleys, Forest of Dean Stone Firms supplied its Forest Pennant paving plus bespoke furniture, architectural masonry, steps and street signage.  1500m2 of Forest Pennant paving was laid across Church Street and St Michael’s churchyard.

Creating a Destination Streetscape

Pedestrians are welcomed to the area by natural Pennant sandstone slabs inset with stainless steel lettering reading “Church Street”.  28 Forest Pennant seats with stainless steel edging and black granite tops follow the line of the pavement.

Symbolic Design

Forest of Dean Stone Firms worked with Damian Assinder, landscape projects officer at Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council, and Reverend Coleman of St. Michael’s Church to incorporate religious references into the regeneration scheme.

The churchyard was transformed with a dramatic set of entrance steps, two bespoke benches and 12 seats all inlaid with stainless steel biblical phrases and symbols.  Forest Pennant corduroy tactile paving, copings and pier caps were also supplied.  Inside the Church a Forest of Dean Pennant sandstone slab was engraved to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee and blessed by the Bishop of Monmouth.

Nicholas Horton, managing director Forest of Dean Stone Firms said:

“Not only did this project require substantial technical planning but we also had to consider the careful integration of our Pennant sandstone into the existing streetscape.  The real challenge however was the intricacy of the design.  For technical accuracy and efficiency, we used advanced water-jet cutting technology for the inset lettering on the steps. The seat and bench units however were too large for this technique.  After much head-scratching and several false starts, the stainless-steel letters were used as a template for our masons to cut out the rebate by hand, resulting in a truly bespoke finish.”

Sourcing Local Suppliers

The Welsh Assembly Government promotes local sourcing for all regeneration projects.  Following a brief introduction to Forest Pennant products during a seminar held by the Heads of the Valleys programme, Nick Landers, principle projects officer for Blaenau Gwent Council, was impressed by the unique features of the Pennant stone, including the durable, diamond-sawn finish and natural variation.

Nick Landers commented:

“Forest Pennant [Forest of Dean Stone Firms] has always done their utmost to accommodate our requirements, even at short notice.  They offer a very professional, bespoke service.

“Using natural, local stone was a means of creating a unique and very special environment for the people of Abertillery.”

The scheme was officially opened by HRH The Earl of Wessex on 17th March 2014.  The area is now called Diamond Jubilee Square in celebration of Her Majesty The Queen.

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