Gallagher is the last remaining company still quarrying Kentish Ragstone, the most widespread building stone used throughout the South East of England. This ‘ragged’, grey stone gives Kent buildings their own unique character, and can be seen across the county and London in castles, houses, churches and walls. To maintain the local character of Kent's architecture, Gallagher's Hermitage Quarry supplies building stone both for restoration, conservation, new build and bespoke projects.
Kentish Ragstone is a distinctive hard sandy limestone from the Hythe Formation of the Weald. It is the only hard rock available at shallow depth in the South East. It has a fascinating history dating back to Roman Times when Kent quarries played a crucial part in the construction of Roman London. It has been used as an attractive and functional building stone across Greater London and the South East of England throughout the centuries, particularly in mediaeval times when it was used in prominent historic buildings such as the Tower of London, the mediaeval Guildhall and Royal Fusiliers buildings, all in London. In Kent, Leeds Castle, the Archbishop's Palace in Maidstone, Westgate in Canterbury, the keep at Dover Castle, Knole House, Ightham Mote and Maidstone Prison were all built of Kentish Ragstone.
The stone is enjoying a revival as planners and architects become increasingly aware of its versatility, charm and availability.
There are now only two Kentish Ragstone quarries operating in Kent today, both run by Gallagher Aggregates; Hermitage Quarry in Barming and Blaise Farm Quarry in West Malling.
At its Hermitage Quarry, Gallagher produces dimensional cut and dressed Kentish Ragstone. With its experienced qualified staff and its modern bespoke machinery and facilities, Gallagher can supply Kentish Ragstone with a variety of finishes including an ‘historic aged’ appearance which is ideal for restoration and conservation works, thus ensuring that the repairs and replacement stone blend in with the original surroundings. Gallagher supplies Kentish Ragstone with a wide variety of surface finishes and sizes for new build and bespoke projects, including polished, honed, flamed, bush hammered and acid washed.
Use of Kentish Ragstone is evident across the South East, whether to maintain existing heritage structures such as Leeds Castle and Westminster Abbey, or with new build examples, including Aldi’s store in Maidstone and a housing development at Langley Park (where beautifully worked Ragstone masonry blends in perfectly with other building materials).
Caring Wood, the RIBA and Grand Designs House of the Year 2017, was built using Kentish Ragstone, supplied by Gallagher's Hermitage Quarry. The Kent vernacular was crucial to the design of this extensive country house set in the Kent countryside, with the architects taking inspiration from the traditional Oast Houses of Kent.
Kentish Ragstone floor tiles were specified by the owners of a 15th Century Wealden Hall for the new kitchen extension. Local materials were requested to maintain the integrity and aesthetics of the build and ensure that the old house and new extension joined seamlessly together. The result was a kitchen floor that is both functional and attractive.
Pitch Faced Kentish Ragstone from Hermitage Quarry was used for the large purpose-built booking hall as part of a £2.6million update of Strood Station. Kentish Ragstone was selected for the external facades of the building so it would be in keeping with the characteristics of other local railway stations within Kent where the stone has historically been used.
It is at locations such as these where Kentish Ragstone’s natural durability and fine appearance will continue the tradition of this excellent building material, building on the past 2,000 years.
Head Office address:
Gallagher Group, Leitrim House, Little Preston
Aylesford, Kent ME20 7NS
Gallagher Aggregates Ltd., Hermitage Quarry
Hermitage Lane, Maidstone, Kent ME16 9NT