Macmillan Coffee Morning 2018

This year the team have excelled with their baking for Macmillan Coffee Morning! We had a wide variety of cakes on offer and an amazing raffle to boot! We would like to thank Nuts Engineering supplies, West Pennine trucks (Scania), Bandag Tyres, Hitachi Construction Machinery, T & C Site services ltd, Trafford Brake and Hose Services, BBS (brick & Stone) LTD and Diamant Boart for generously donating to the fundraising.

As always the coffee morning is raising funds for Macmillan Cancer Support and is always a success with many of our drivers stopping in for a brew and a cake! We will announce our total once the day is over but it has already been an amazing success!

Did you get to sample any of our delicious bakes?

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Macmillan Coffee Week

This year Macmillan Coffee Morning falls on Friday 28th September and thus coincides with our Friday blog. It is no surprise then that our blog this week is all about our Macmillan coffee week.

Setting Up the Coffee Morning

It all started last Friday when the team drew the names of cakes out of a hat to decide what we are baking. The balloons and bunting shortly followed whilst the posters for our coffee week got plastered around the office. In total there are 15 cakes being baked by the staff at our head office. Many of our drivers and passers by expected to pop in for a brew to raise money for this fantastic cause.

Past Fundraising

We are no strangers here at Armstrongs Group to raising money for Charity with a number of our team regularly taking part in charitable events. Members of our accounts team recently completed an 11 mile walk across Morecambe bay. Another member of our team also completed a sky dive from 15,000 feet.

The fundraising isn’t just set for the Friday bake day though as we have plenty of activities throughout the week. It started on Monday with the “Guess how tall the cake is” competition, and has included cake bingo and pin the cherry on the cake.

Baking & Eating!

At Armstrongs Group we encourage all our staff across all of our sites and our AMIX Concrete plant to get involved with the fundraising. This is because we want to be involved in our communities and this includes inviting you to our office events. If you fancy a brew, or a selection of 15 different cakes, then we always have an open door policy! We can’t guarantee the cakes will still be here though as we get pretty hungry in our office!

We also run a raffle during our Macmillan coffee morning with some amazing prizes to be won. This year includes 2 tickets to see Rick Astley in Concert. We would like to thank Nuts Engineering supplies, West Pennine trucks (Scania), Bandag Tyres, Hitachi Construction Machinery, T & C Site services ltd, Trafford Brake and Hose Services, BBS (brick & Stone) LTD and Diamant Boart for generously donating to the fundraising.

Below you can see a number of the cakes we baked for this great cause. Which ones do you think look best?


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From Quarry to You

In this weeks blog I wanted to shed some light on the journey our stone takes from quarry to you. We will look at the “life cycle” of our stone from when it starts at our quarry all the way through the preparation and transport stages until it reaches its final destination.

Our Quarries

The Armstrongs Group operates 5 quarries in the North West and Cumbria. Those five quarries are located at Brinscall, Montcliffe, Pilkington, Shap and Waddington Fell. Combined they cover 276 Acres with Brinscall covering the smallest area at 40 acres and Waddington Fell covering the highest area at 66 Acres. Both Pilkington and Shap cover 53 Acres whilst Montcliffe is our second largest quarry at 64 Acres. Each one of our five quarries serves a different purpose and yields different stone produce.

Brinscall Quarry

Brinscall Quarry is located near the town of Chorley and has been operational in excess of one hundred years. It produces highly desirable and attractive sandstone and can be used as a building stone, including the present work on the Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona. The Quarry has been worked in the traditional method of crushing and screening following blasting and extraction of dimension stone to produce aggregate materials.

Montcliffe Quarry

Montcliffe Quarry is located near the town of Horwich and has been operational for in excess of one hundred years. It yields a gritstone (a well cemented sandstone) that is also worked in the traditional method of crushing and screening.

Pilkington Quarry

Pilkington Quarry is also located near the town of Horwich and has been operational for in excess of one hundred years. It is split into two sites, Pilkington 1 and Pilkington 2. Pilkington 1 is exhausted but carries permissions to receive 2M tonnes of inert waste. Pilkington 2 is as yet unmined but carries a pale buff/brown highly durable gritstone.

Shap Quarry

Shap Quarry is located in Cumbria near the village of Shap and has been in operation since 1950. It is the home of Shap Pink granite, a widely used decorative building stone. The site yields two types of stone, Light Shap primarily worked as aggregate and Dark Shap used architecturally. It is also worked traditionally with high demand presently for Rock Armour to build sea and river defences.

Waddington Fell Quarry

Finally, Waddington Fell is located near the town of Clitheroe, and has been operational since the 1960’s. The quarry offers a range of sandstones, variable in strength and colour. Waddington Fell has also been worked in the traditional method of crushing and screening following blasting. The stone from Waddington fell also forms excellent cut products such as fireplaces, lintels, even complete houses.

Our Products

As you can see from the rundown of our quarries we offer a vast array of products to suit every need. Each product comes from our own stone and this allows us to have strict quality control and provide the highest quality products and material available.


The most popular of our products is Aggregates. Aggregates are a form of coarse to medium grained material made from stone and used mainly in construction. There are a number of different shapes and sizes of aggregates such as: Sand, Crushed Stone & Gravel to name a few.

There are lots of uses for aggregates in construction and they make up a variety of products and building materials.

We supply aggregates of all sizes for a range of applications including concrete production, Pathways/ Driveways and Sea Defence. Click Picture to enlarge.

Cut Stone and Dimensional Stone

The Armstrongs Group has a range of fixed blade and wire saws that enable our stonemasons to supply an extensive range of architectural stonework including Window Cills, Lintels, Fence posts and Door Surrounds.

All of our work is bespoke to your requirements and we are involved in many types of projects ranging from refurbishment and renovation to new build.

Ready Mix Concrete

We can also supply any mix design of ready mix concrete you require for the job. These range from GEN1 to RC50 (footings to motorway precast concrete) via our AMIX Concrete Plant. AMIX Concrete use pure Portland cement in all our mixes so you can be guaranteed consistent quality every time.

Armstrongs Group also supply a full range of admixtures. Examples of this are: liquid retarder, during hot weather and AEA (air entraining agent) which prevents cracking of hardened concrete during extreme freeze thaw temperatures. We also provide accelerator admixtures which will provide seven day strength within 24 hours of placement.

How is our stone extracted?

Depending on the product we have different ways of extracting the stone from our quarries. The most traditional way of extracting stone is via blasting the rock face.


Blasts are used to extract large amounts of stone from the rock face and are an efficient way of extracting. The blast technician will identify where on the rock face we are going to blast and then prepare the area in advance. A few days before the blast the blast technician will drill into the rock face at a vertical angle, they will do this at a few points along the rock face in order to make holes for the explosives.

On the day of the blast the explosives will be lowered into the holes along the rock face before being detonated from a safe distance. The stone that is dislodged is then used for aggregates whilst the larger stone pieces are either broken down to be used as aggregates or potentially used for dimensional stone products.

Manual Excavation

As previously mentioned in our La Sagrada Familia blog for more delicate stone products such as some dimensional stone or cut stone products, we will manually extract the stone from the rock face.

Rather than blasting an entire rock face at some height, there is a more methodical process to extracting our stone manually. Extracting downwards in stages is a more logical process in order to keep the stone in the best condition possible.

Our excavator, with its ripper attachment, carefully uses the rocks natural cracks to dislodge the stone . Once the stone is dislodged a wheel loader collects it and transports it to safer grounds away from the extraction site. However, if the stone is too large to transport then we have a unique way of solving this. The loader will load a large metal ball into its bucket and from a height of around 3 metres drops it onto the larger stone below. This actions breaks it into smaller more easier pieces where it is then transported to its next location.

What happens next?

Once the stone is extracted there are a number of different processes that we undertake depending on the finished product.

Screening, Crushing & Washing

To prepare and produce our aggregates we go through a screening process. Screening helps classify the aggregates by size before separating them into piles at different points of the plant. Some aggregates are crushed into smaller sizes however all our aggregates are fed through a washing plant.

Washing is an aggregate standard procedure by which aggregate is washed to make it meet production specifications. However, there is more to the function of water in the aggregate producing procedure. Washing is used to remove clay, silt and other materials such as coal, roots, shale and twigs. The water in the washing process also helps with sizing and separating aggregate as well as dewatering produce like sand.

Once the aggregate has undergone the screening process it is now ready for sale and is used in a number of different applications dependant on its size.

Ready Mix Concrete

We use our own aggregates to create high quality concrete. Once our aggregates have been crushed and screened we use our 0mm-20mm products to mix with a paste made from cement and water. This paste coats the aggregates creating a rock like texture. This produces our high quality ready mix concrete ready for sale.

Wire and Fixed Blade Saws

We have a range of saws capable of fulfilling any jobs. Once the stone is extracted from our quarries they are transported to our stone yard. Here the stone is checked, identified and separated by our stone masons ready to be cut to shape.

Dimensional stone is a popular stone that has been cut to specific shape for use in building and infrastructure work. Our saws cut a section of the stone off to assess the quality before cutting into the final product. Our saws can cut any shape or size from paving stones to large signs.

Hand Finished Bespoke Cut Stone

Once the stone is cut into the desired shape and size some of our products require a hand finish. Our stonemasons work with precision and care to finish off our bespoke products to our clients exact specifications.

Once all the steps above have been completed for each of our products (Aggregates, Concrete, Cut Stone) they are now ready to be shipped directly to you or they are available collection if so desired.

For more information about the products we sell and their life journey from each of our quarries directly to you, get in touch.

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Culture And Ethos In The Workplace

When we first started writing this blog we explored many different themes and topics to discuss. The idea behind this was to give our audience a different look into our business, and to inform people about what we do. In this blog we want to give you an in-depth look at our people and our staff. In the first instalment of this particular blog, we will be discussing working culture and ethos and how it thrives.

Head Office

Based in Horwich, just off Chorley New Road, our head office is home to not just only our physical offices but also our AMIX Concrete plant and our stone workshop too. After the working day is done the yard at our head office then transforms into a depot for our trucks, all 70 of them!

As with any larger business, our head office is always a hive of activity and today is no exception. As I write this blog entry on the Tuesday afternoon before it is released on the Friday, We have our accounts department working hard on tickets that arrive in their office. Our transport and sales teams are dealing with inbound and outbound enquiries as well as arranging all the logistics that go with transporting aggregates and all forms of stone material.

As for myself, I work on our Digital marketing and Web content. I create content calendars and implement marketing strategies whilst dealing with any IT problems in the office. We also have our company directors who are extremely hands on and not afraid to get stuck in and help out. Finally at our head office we have our HR manager who has a range of responsibilities from recruitment to employee incentives and much more.

Now that we have briefly covered the working structure at our head office let us now explore the working culture in the office and how it is harvested.

Harvesting A Productive Culture

There is a popular saying that goes “A happy workforce is a productive workforce” that relates to every single business in the world. It is a proven fact that statistically workers who have higher job satisfaction will be more productive, this boils down quite simply to investing in people both physically and financially. If you invest in people, they are more likely to invest in you.

I want to tell you a little anecdote about one of my first weeks working for Armstrongs Group. It was about a month into my employment and our CEO was walking through the office chatting to the staff. He walks into my office and what he asked me actually took me back a bit. He asked me if I was happy, but more importantly, asked if I was going home happy and if my partner could see that I was happy. Now this may seem like a small deal to some people, but to me this meant a lot. In all my years working, never had I ever had my employer ask about, not only my happiness, but my partner’s happiness too. I knew from that moment that I was in the right place.


Culture and ethos are a born naturally, as a business you can attempt to influence both, but ultimately it is something that is subconsciously bred by employees. There is always a desirable work culture that is chased by employers and that can be ushered in the right direction with the aid of the recruitment process.

The Armstrongs Group recruit with three things in mind, experience, passion and personality. Once you start looking at recruitment as a jigsaw finding the right pieces to fit the puzzle, rather than an incessant need to fill an empty role, you can start to influence company culture and ethos.


Although our directors are hands on in the business they encourage employee autonomy. Employees are encouraged to think for themselves, and act in the business’ best interest. This freedom really allows for creativity in all forms to thrive, and creative thinking breeds creative culture.

Here in the accounts office (and HR too!) we have a daily lunch club called Salad Club. The concept is simple- each day one member of our team makes a salad for everybody else, taking it in turns as to who the days “chef” is. This small and seemingly irrespective task has a big influence on our culture in our offices. It gives us something to look forward to, allows us to try potential new foods and puts your lunch trust (the best part of the day!) in someone else’s hands.

We also partake in Macmillan coffee morning every year, each member of the team drawing out the name of a baked good they need to make and bring into the office. Culture and ethos are bred naturally; it’s the small supposed insignificant actions and events that create the unique and complex layers of company culture.

The BBC released a fascinating article last year that touches on “The many upsides of a happy workforce” and is a must read for anyone who wants to understand how culture can be bred and influenced. More importantly this article directly correlates to the working life at Armstrongs group.


If you are passionate and experienced and want to be involved in the ever evolving state of our working culture and ethos, then we warmly welcome you to take a look at our careers page for our latest recruitment opportunities.


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La Sagrada Familia- A day at Brinscall quarry

On Wednesday 5th September I had the privilege of leaving our head offices in Horwich and accompanying our Director, Emma Armstrong, to Brinscall Quarry in Chorley. The purpose of our visit was simple: La Sagrada Familia.

Earlier on in the day we had welcomed Charlie Holt from BBC Radio Lancashire to our stone workshop in Horwich. Whilst at the workshop he wanted to see how we cut and prepared the stone from Brinscall Quarry ready for collection to be sent to Barcelona.

Basilica De La Sagrada Familia

Basilica de la Sagrada Familia is  a large unfinished Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. The stone used for the bell towers on the Nativity and Passion facades is sandstone from Montjuic in Barcelona. The quarries in this region were exhausted and closed many years ago thus meaning original stone could only be sourced from demolished buildings. So began a worldwide search for stone that would match that already used. It is through this process that the sandstone from Brinscall Quarry, near Chorley, was selected. It is to the Armstrongs Group pride that since being identified we have shipped many loads of faced stone to be further cut in Barcelona.

Brinscall Quarry

Later on in the day on the Wednesday, We invited Charlie and his digital media team to accompany us to Brinscall to see the stone, and the quarry, up close and personal. It is here where you truly get a feel for the magnitude of the project. Brinscall Quarry covers 40 acres near the town of Chorley and has been operational in excess of one hundred years.

The Extraction

We stayed in the quarry for a good hour showing Charlie around and watching an excavator and loader. In that time they would shift close to 200 tonnes of stone. After watching the excavator closely for some time it became apparent that the way we extract the stone for La Sagrada Familia was somewhat different than other extractions. One side of Brinscall quarry had scorch marks on the rock face from previous blasts- but the other side was almost nothing but pristine sandstone.

The excavator carefully dislodges the stone from the rock face with its long arm using the ripper at the end. Once the stone was dislodged the excavator would unhook the ripper, flip it over and reattach it- all without the driver leaving his cab. The stone would then be transported by the loader to higher ground ready to be picked up by one of our iconic red wagons!


Back At Our Yard

Before the Stone is shipped to Barcelona it arrives at our stone workshop. Here our stone mason loads it onto one of our saws to cut a section off. The practice of cutting the stone allows for the architects in Barcelona to have a cross section of the stone. This allows them to assess the structural integrity of the stone and to also see the beautiful beige colouring that is so highly desired.


Channel 4’s Building Giants Documentary, which features the Armstrongs group, goes behind the scenes the journey our stone takes and the fascinating problems the architects in Barcelona face when building La Sagrada Familia.

For more information about the La Sagrada Familia Project visit our website here.

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Ready Mix Concrete Community Projects

On Thursday 6th September 2018 our brilliant team at AMIX Concrete supplied a mixer full of concrete to a local community build here in Bolton. At the time of writing the project itself is top secret, but we are proud to be able to serve and help our community.

We believe here at Armstrongs Group that we should invest in our local communities so that they too invest in us, that is why we are proud to be relied upon to serve our community where fit.


For enquiries contact us on 01204 668021

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BBC Radio Lancashire Visit

On Wednesday 5th September 2018 we had the privilege of welcoming Charlie Holt of BBC Lancashire to our stone workshop in Horwich and Brinscall Quarry in Chorley to see where our Brinscall stone comes from before being sent to Barcelona for La Sagrada Familia!
Did you catch us on the radio?
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Armstrongs accounts team charity events

This past weekend saw members of our Accounts team take part in a number of different events to raise money for charity.

We had Louise skydiving from 15,000 feet for Theo’s Warriors, a charity raising money to help families suffering with Neuroblastoma)


Tracy and her Daughter Beatrice also took part in an 11 Mile walk across Morecambe bay to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Tracy (left) and her Daughter Beatrice (right) just before their 11 mile walk


We are incredibly proud of our staff and are honoured to have them on our team here at Armstrongs!



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