Smiths helping hand at The Cogges Farm Museum
The Cogges Farm Museum, based in Witney, Oxfordshire, is a registered charity; and like most charities are dependent on donations of either time, money or materials.
Due to the local donations and promises of help the farm opened it’s doors again in March 2013, proving to be an excellent attraction to all ages with its farm animals, historic Manor house and the atmosphere of how farming and living were done in previous centuries.
Smiths Bletchington’s helping hand was to provide almost 5 tonnes of Cotswold Dry Walling Stone for the repair of the ‘miles’ of old Cotswold stone walling around the museum, plus 23 tonnes of their popular 20mm Oxford Shingle for the main courtyard. They also provided over 3 tonnes of the slightly smaller 10mm Oxford Shingle to repair footpaths at the Museum.
Volunteers from the Eynsham based Wychwood Project are repairing the numerous dry stonewalls, using traditional methods and under the watchful eye of their expert Trevor Townsend.
Trevor and his helpers have mentioned how good the stone is from Smiths, great colour, a good supply of different sizes and ready to build with. This is typical of the way Smiths supply their Cotswold stone, as it is normally hand-picked and bagged at the quarry before being delivered. If preferred, ‘loose’ loads and customer pickups can also be arranged.
Although this particular project is a repair one, the art of building (or repairing) a dry stone wall is a true art form in itself. There are a range of helpful hints and guides regarding our Cotswold Dry Stone Walling on this website, including how to build a dry stone wall and how much to order.
The courtyard is now covered with Oxford shingle, from the Smiths’ decorative shingle range. Produced locally at our Gill Mill Gravel quarry at Ducklington, near Witney, the shingle has a typical Cotswold creamy hue. The 20mm Shingle was spread over the courtyard, which has transformed the area. Oxford Shingle is hardwearing and very practical, easy to lay and very easy to maintain; as well as being a visually pleasing solution to an area that has constant heavy foot traffic. It’s also good for driveways and ‘beds’ down well to take vehicle movements. For lighter pedestrian areas the 10mm Oxford Shingle was used for footpaths around the site. The shingle’s creamy colour matches perfectly with its Cotswold surroundings of the Cogges Farm museum.
This product is just one of the many decorative shingles Smiths have to offer. All of which are suitable for drives, paths or garden landscaping projects. They are an attractive alternative when used in the garden (or flowerpot) as a weed suppressor!!
Or if you would like further details about the Cogges Farm Museum then click on this link. www.cogges.org.uk
Smiths have submitted a planning application to extend their Gill Mill Quarry at Ducklington, Witney. Gill Mill Quarry is Smiths' flagship operation producing a full range of sand and gravel products and also recycled aggregates. The proposals provide a comprehensive package to work the site with minimal environmental impact whilst maintaining supplies of essential construction aggregates to the local building industry. The proposals seek to maintain activities at the same level as present so there will be no increase in production or lorry traffic. The extension will secure an additional 14 years for the Gill Mill operations and its employees.
Smiths know that the land in the Windrush Valley is important to the communities in the local area and have involved them in extensive discussions whilst developing the proposals to work and restore the land. These proposals have also been informed by extensive technical assessments that have been carried out on the environmental effects of mineral working and how best to minimise them.
Creative restoration proposals have been designed to deliver major biodiversity and public access benefits building on the successful restoration already achieved at the Rushy Common Nature Reserve and Tar Lakes.
There will be an extensive network of new footpaths and bridleways and also new recreational facilities for the local community to enjoy the countryside. An eco-tourism development is also included, ensuring on-going economic benefits to the local area after the completion of gravel extraction.
Find out more about the extension proposals on our dedicated Gill Mill Extension web page by clicking here. Gill Mill Extension
KEEP ON MOVING...
We’re very proud of our Tippers. They are the most visible part of our operations, announcing our presence to the market. They have to look the part and meet the most exacting standards of road worthiness.
But also we need to operate them with the environment in mind. We regularly replace vehicles and new trucks ordered for 2013 will meet current state of the art Emissions standards in accordance with our environmental policy. Equipped with Automatic gearboxes, the new trucks will help Drivers optimise fuel efficiency in accordance with their SAFED training (safe and fuel efficient driving)
Then there’s safety-our top priority. Our trucks are now procured with Auto tailboards meaning the Driver no longer needs to leave the controlled environment of his cab to deliver a load. Safety of other road users is a key consideration-as members of the MPA (Mineral Products Association) we fully support their Cycle Safe campaign which requires us to undertake the following initiatives including recently adopted vehicle specifications:
-All drivers must receive vulnerable road user training.
- New LGVs must be fitted with additional safety equipment including blind spot elimination devices and mirrors, side under-run guards, audible left turn warnings for cyclists and pedestrians, and rear warning signs.
- Existing LGVs must be fitted with similar equipment levels within an extended 5 year period with operators encouraged to consider
Our Man 8 wheelers pictured here were purchased as recently as 2011 before the MPA specification was adopted but along with the rest of our existing fleet, they will be retro fitted with the required features this year.
Trucks have to keep on moving.
GABION STONE ON TELEVISON...
Gabion stone, supplied by Smith & Sons, were used as a landscape feature on the popular Channel 4 programme Grand Design. This particular episode (two parts) is based in Swindon where Kevin McCloud sets out to do what Britain's housing industry said couldn't be done - to build beautiful, contemporary, affordable, sustainable homes and still make money. The gabion stone is used to create small corner walls - in effect to hide dustbins - in a otherwise open planned garden landscape. Take a look for yourself and see how a simple stone can be used a such a creative manner. Any thoughts and photographs of your creations would be welcomed. Channel 4
BIODIVERSITY AWARD FOR SMITHS
Smith & Sons (Bletchington) Ltd was one of four of smaller and medium-sized operators to receive special awards at MPA’s Building on our legacy … realising our potential event in London today (19 October).
At the same event, Smiths also won a commendation in the Natural England Biodiversity Awards for its newly-opened Rushy Common Nature Reserve which has been restored as part of the on going operation at Gill Mill.
The biodiversity commitment award was presented to Andrew Smith, Joint Managing Director, and Martin Layer, Estates Manager at Smith & Sons (Bletchington) Ltd, by MPA Chief Executive Nigel Jackson who said: “Smiths’ commitment to biodiversity is clearly evidenced by the excellent work the company has carried out at Rushy Common Nature Reserve. Their restoration of the site has enhanced biodiversity by creating a mosaic of new habitats that includes grassland, thorn scrub, ditch areas, species rich native hedgerow, a lake and two ponds. The site significantly benefits the local community and wildlife.”