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Procter Supplies Cast Stone for Ornamental Gateway to Hindu Temple

Shri Venkateswara (Balaji) Temple, Tividale, West Midlands

The Shri Venkateswara (Balaji)
Temple in Tividale, West Midlands

Procter Cast Stone has supplied 2280 bespoke cast stone units - amounting to 182 tonnes in total - for the construction of a substantial dual-purpose ornamental gateway and accommodation block for the Shri Venkateswara (Balaji) Temple in Tividale, West Midlands.

The Shri Venkateswara Temple was inaugurated in August 2006 and is the first shrine for Lord Venkateswara (also known as Lord Balaji) in Europe. The temple complex covers an area of 12.5 acres and an important building is the ornamental gateway, or Gopurum, which doubles as an accommodation block containing four flats for priests that live at the temple. Both the main temple building and the ornamental gate feature traditional Chola architecture and, in the case of the ornamental gateway, substantial use has been made of cast stone units supplied by Procter Cast Stone.

In total 2280 units of simulated Spanish granite - weighing approximately 182 tonnes overall - were supplied over a 12-week period to meet the construction schedule. All units were individually marked so that their positions could be determined unambiguously from the unit location plans issued by Procter Cast Stone. In addition, lifting eyes were integrated as necessary and full instructions were provided to ease handling and minimise the risk of damage.

Ciara Ryan, of Essex Goodman Suggitt Chartered Architects, explains why cast stone was specified instead of natural stone for this project: "The two main reasons were speed of delivery and the complexity of the shapes. Natural stone tends to have long lead times and delivery can be unpredictable, but we were confident that Procter Caststone could deliver to an agreed schedule.

"For the ornamental gateway, with its stepped design and complex profiles, it would have been very difficult to use natural stone - but relatively straightforward for a supplier to work from AutoCAD drawings to produce moulds from which units are cast."

Cast stone was used extensively throughout the ornamental gateway for bands, pilasters, plinths, architraves, window and door surrounds - all in various sizes and shapes due to the tiered nature of the Chola-inspired design. Ciara Ryan is very pleased with the finished result, as well as the service received from Procter Cast Stone: "We selected Procters from a shortlist of several potential suppliers. They are one of the leaders in this field and were very helpful throughout the project, particularly with the front-end design. I would be more than happy to work with the company again on other projects."

Early in the temple project, Procter Cast Stone became the main link between the architect, the structural engineer and the builder. Meetings were held periodically to ensure that technical requirements and timescales were adhered to, and accurate delivery schedules were planned to meet the build dates. During the construction, regular site meetings were held to ensure compliance with the client's requirements.

Surjit Bohgal, director of Model Builders Ltd, is complimentary about Procter Cast Stone, saying: "Having not worked with cast stone before I found it very straightforward thanks to the way all the units were marked for correct coursing; otherwise the project would have been rather like tackling a massive, complicated, three-dimensional puzzle.

"The quality of the cast stone was also very good, the deliveries were always on schedule, and Procters supplied excellent instructions for on-site handling, lifting, installation, pointing and cleaning. The people from Procter Cast Stone were helpful throughout the project, and I would have no qualms about installing their units again."

Procter Cast Stone has stringent quality control processes in place, so every unit is checked for correct dimensions, colour and surface finish. Indeed, the quality control is so high that 100 per cent of the 2280 bespoke cast stone units were accepted for the temple project, with none rejected. Samples were supplied to the client and architect prior to Procter Cast Stone being awarded the contract, and all subsequent deliveries to site matched the pre-production samples perfectly.

Dr VP Narayan Rao, Chairman of the Shri Venkateswara Temple, is very impressed with the cast stone. He comments: "To the untrained eye, it looks just like natural stone, yet it was far easier to obtain. The service from Procter Cast Stone was always first-class, and we have no complaints about the cast stone whatsoever. In fact we are now considering using the company for another project at the temple where we might otherwise have used natural granite."

Procter has a tradition of excellence and craftsmanship that dates back over 260 years, though many of the design and manufacturing processes used to produce cast stone units are truly state-of-the-art.

Procter seeks to develop long-term relationships with clients by delivering high-quality products and reliable, personal service. A dedicated planner is assigned to every project, large or small, to ensure that all aspects of the work meet with the client's requirements. Following the success with the Shri Venkateswara Temple, Procter is now involved with further construction projects on prominent religious buildings.

For more information about standard and bespoke cast stone products, please call or email info@caststoneuk.co.uk