Stonemason Paul has designs on a grand renovation project

Richard Ellis, presenter Kevin McCloud and stonemason Paul Foster.
Richard Ellis, presenter Kevin McCloud and stonemason Paul Foster.

AN Alnwick stonemason will have his moment in the spotlight next week, or at the very least his work will.

Paul Foster was involved in a renovation project on a home in the Morpeth area for the Channel 4 programme Grand Designs.

The show focuses on people who undertake exciting or ambitious projects to create their dream home and Paul worked on the home at the heart of next Wednesday’s show.

The project is the longest Grand Designs ever filmed after Stefan Lepkowski and Annia Shabowska bought a derelict mill cottage in 2006 and finally moved in for Christmas 2010.

Initally Stefan insisted on doing most of the work himself on an unrealistic budget of just £250,000.

But Paul is a little nervous about his forthcoming TV appearance.

Paul said: “I’m worried because you don’t know how you are going to be portrayed.

“One thing I’m not worried about is the quality of the stonework because that speaks for itself.

“That should stand on its own two feet.

“But the thing about Grand Designs is they are always looking for a story.”

Paul and his employee Richard Ellis were initially contracted to assist with the stonemasonry aspect.

However in the end the pair was on the site for two years from July 2007.

They constructed the stone elevation using the same techniques as the 19th century stonemasons and helping out with construction work throughout the site.

They then returned a year later to build external steps and flagged areas.

During their time on site, the pair were regularly filmed and interviewed by the Grand Designs team.

Paul said: “I don’t know how much of this will be shown as with all Grand Designs the focus is on the owner, it is his story.”

But he said that it was ‘great’ working on the project.

“It has been an exciting and challenging project, a definite one-off,” he said.

“It was really challenging because there were all sorts of different materials reacting with other materials.

“There’s steel and glass sitting against stone.

“It’s like Marmite, you are either going to love it or hate it.”

The project consisted of the conservation of the existing 19th century stone building, along with the construction of a new stone elevation to mirror the original in style while using original techniques.

There is also a steel, glass and zinc atrium to connect the two structures together with a steel and glass bridge at first-floor level.

And finally a dam was built to form a pond with a bridge over it.

Grand Designs – House In Northumberland will air on Channel 4 Wednesday at 9pm.