A circular paving solution for war memorial’s 100th Remembrance Day

Block paving clock face

As many landscaping contractors will agree, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to choosing the right paving materials for a job. This was certainly the case for the paving contract to renovate a Staffordshire war memorial in Rugeley, which needed to accommodate up to 200 gatherers for this year’s 100th-year commemoration on Remembrance Day.

Mike Thorley from Associated Contractors approached the team at The Paving Experts after he was asked to create a clock face for the war memorial using block paving. See how Mike decided to fix this circular paving challenge.

War memorial in Rugeley, Staffs
New paved courtyard area at Rugeley's war memorial in Staffs

Background to Rugeley's war memorial

The Armitage and Handsacre War Memorial was first unveiled in February 1920 in memory of the parish’s servicemen who fell during World War I. It was originally placed at the corner of Boat House Lane in the Staffordshire village of Rugeley. 

Following World War II, a new stone and inscription were added to the memorial’s base in memory of the servicemen who fell during that conflict. 

Then, in the 1960s, the memorial was relocated nearby to the junction of New Road and Shropshire Brook Road where it still stands proud today. 

Made of sandstone and now Grade II listed, the monument features a 4.2 metre-high calvary cross and crucifixion figure, which are mounted on base plinths containing the inscriptions.

New couryard for Armitage war memorial
The Armitage & Handsacre war memorial

Design brief for 100th-year service

In 2021, seven years after repairs and conservation work funded by the War Memorial Trust, Armitage and Handsacre Parish Council wished to improve the setting of the war memorial so the area could safely accommodate more residents wanting to pay their respects, particularly on Remembrance Day. 

The project was to be completed well before Remembrance Day, in time for the war memorial’s 100th year commemoration on Sunday 14th November. 

Site surveys and assessments of the memorial’s condition began. 

Axis Design Architects, the architects for the job, proposed repositioning the refurbished memorial 180 degrees to face a new paved courtyard with seating. 

The monument itself was to be dismantled to remove heavy staining for a fresh, clean look.

New clock-face paving proposed

Mike at Associated Contractors was asked to pave the war memorial’s courtyard.

“We were given the challenge of designing a clock face using block paving,” explains Mike, “with the hands of the clock pointing to 11am.

“The pavers would act as a visual reminder of the hour when firing is said to have ceased for the First World War, marking the end of the gruelling conflict that killed an estimated 8.5 million servicemen during combat and 13 million civilians.”

Block paving clock face
The courtyard's clock face made out of block paving

The challenges of circular block paving

Circular block paving can provide landscapers and paviours with certain challenges. 

Why is that? Well, most grouting solutions require joints of at least 3mm wide. Any less and there is not enough grout to properly secure the block pavers in place.  

But with circular paving, there will always be some joints that are less than the required 3mm, usually between 1mm and 2mm. 

Mike’s war memorial project offered an extra challenge. By creating the clock-face effect,  some pavers would be surrounded by literally no space for the jointing sand at all.

Extra consideration: sinking high heels

Block pavers are usually bedded on a sand screed bed and jointed with fine, kiln-dried jointing sand. This is exactly what was required at the war memorial: a flexible bedding mortar with a flexible jointing compound. 

Mike shares, “The clock-face paving needed to withstand up to 200 people at the war memorial, and all standing for some time. 

“However, by using sand alone, anyone wearing stilettos during a Remembrance Day service would have found their heels slowly disappearing into the joints!”

Circular paving job at Staffs war memorial
Work in progress at the Rugeley war memorial

Professional solutions for circular paving

For this Staffordshire paving job, Mike gave Cleo Canning at The Paving Experts a call to discuss the potential solutions to his landscaping conundrum. 

Flowpoint slurry grout would have normally have been a great solution for Mike’s design,” shares Cleo. “But with this particular paving job, the pavers were not on a mortar bed and we needed a flexible product.

“For many projects like this, a flexible grout such as PremJoint is a great option,” she adds. “However, the triangular shapes of some of the joints created a real contrast of joint widths, from fairly wide to super narrow. Unfortunately, PremJoint is not suitable for widths of less than 3mm.

“Fine, kiln-dried sand was hands-down the best option for the joints as it can cope with these changes in widths and it was the flexible jointing compound that Mike needed. But we needed to find a solution that would stabilise the sand and prevent it from potentially blowing out of the joints.” 

After discussing all the various options together, Mike decided to use Paving Guard sand stabiliser for Rugeley’s newly paved memorial clock. 

The block pavers were first jointed as normal with sand. Next, the blocks and joints were liberally sprayed with Paving Guard to stabilise the sand and provide a protective layer. The area is then left to fully dry.

Circular block paving jointed with sand
Block paving jointed with sand and sprayed with sand stabiliser
Poppies on Remembrance Day

Benefits of using sand stabiliser for paving

Paving Guard is a solvent-free, liquid sand stabiliser and sealant. Made by Ultrascape and available in 25-litre containers, it bonds together the particles of jointing sand to keep them in place inside the joints. 

Manufactured especially for flexibly constructed paving, it still provides the flexibility needed for these types of projects. 

“Basically, by using Paving Guard we were able to stabilise the jointing sand to keep it in place and prevent general wear and tear,” says Mike. 

“And by using this stabiliser, any visitors to the war memorial who are wearing high heels shouldn’t experience them disappearing into the joints and cracks.”

Also a sealant, Paving Guard provides a low-sheen finish to protect against common stains, such as oil, grease and food spills, and even limits the likelihood of chewing gum permanently sticking to the surfaces. 

“We’re so pleased we could help Mike out with his paving challenge,” says Cleo.

“The block pavers look fantastic and, by using the sand stabiliser, it means Rugeley’s war memorial clock-face will still be intact and looking pristine for years to come.”

Paving Guard stabiliser and sealant
Paving Guard is a sand stabiliser and sealant

Tailored advice to resolve tricky jobs

Tricky paving jobs can come in all shapes and sizes. And it can offer extra challenges when you’re working on your own to resolve them. 

If you’ve been tasked with a puzzling landscaping conundrum, pick up the phone and give our family-run team at The Paving Experts a call to discuss the options. We’re available Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5.30pm on 0845 862 1099. Based in central England, delivery is available locally and throughout mainland UK. 

The Paving Experts sell all types of bedding mortars, grouting products, plus essential tools to get the job done quickly and efficiently. We offer some of the best deals online – especially when you buy in bulk using our pallet and part-pallet offers. Heavy-duty equipment, such as bridge saws and sponge machines, is also available to hire.

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