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The memorial gates in Green Park, which commemorate Commonwealth war dead
The memorial gates in Green Park, which commemorate Commonwealth war dead

Cathedral works organisation
Restoring statues of past monarchs to their former glory, relocating 400-year-old gates and sculpting heraldic beasts to sit on top of them are just some of the little tasks that the Cathedral Works Organisation has undertaken in order to restore the Temple Bar, Sir Christopher Wren’s 17th-century gatehouse that used to mark the boundary between the City of London and Westminster. The project was slightly complicated by the fact that the structure was moved to Hertfordshire in 1869. However, CWO has moved it back – the final stone was laid in August – and it now stands as a grand entrance to Paternoster Square next to St Paul’s Cathedral. In May, one of the original beasts was rediscovered, and CWO stonemasons have provided it with new companions.

CWO has gained numerous industry awards for new-build and restoration projects, reflecting the high standards and quality of its work. The firm also has an enviable track record for safety and has been awarded the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents’ gold award for safety for the past four years.

Runners up

IJP building conservation
IJP’s building conservation work has taken it to some far-flung locations. In 1995, it restored an 18th-century windmill in Barbados to full working order, using trees from the forests of Guyana. Sourcing traditional materials for restorations in this country can be a more complicated matter, however, so IJP has developed a materials side to its business. Called Old House Store, it has built a reputation for high-quality traditional building and decorating products.

Norman & underwood
As a specialist in the field of roofing and sand-cast leadwork, Norman & Underwood has worked on most of the finest cathedrals and historic houses in the country. Most recently, the firm has come the aid of Salisbury cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Chatsworth house and Windsor castle.

In order to continue to preserve these structures into the future, Norman & Underwood’s roofing division has established an in-house training facility and hopes to attract young people into the profession.

PAYE stonework & restoration
With a turnover of £14m, PAYE is the UK’s largest specialist in the field of cleaning, repairing and adapting historic building facades. Recent projects have included repairs to the Houses of Parliament and the construction of a high-arched entrance to the Royal Albert Hall – the first radical alteration to the building since its construction in 1867. This project serves to illustrate the degree of specialism within the company, as PAYE’s carpenters were required to resurrect skills that were last used constructing the vast railway arches of the Victorian era.

Last year’s winner has enjoyed another successful year with turnover reaching £9.8m after the acquisition last November of fellow restoration specialist St Blaise. Buying the firm that restored Windsor castle after the fire of 1992 further bolstered Stonewest’s portfolio, which is already replete with royal commissions, including refurbishment work to Buckingham palace.

Stonewest’s future looks bright, too – the firm has just secured a £4.5m contract to restore the deteriorated Anglesey marble exterior of Birmingham Town Hall.

Since being established by a Hungarian colonel of that name in 1855, London-based Szerelmey has steadily built a reputation for the meticulous preservation of historic buildings. Recent projects have included restoration works to the internal galleries of the Victoria & Albert Museum and the dramatic refurbishment of Victoria House in Bloomsbury.

The firm’s expert stonemasons are also busy with new-build projects, most recently providing the stonework for a public square on the approach to the Tower of London.