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Andre Vrona

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These are selected soundbytes from an interview with Andre Vrona at Ketton Architectural Stone and Masonry. In the interview he describes how he started in the stone masonry profession and how it has changed over the years.

Please click on the phono images to listen to Andre Vrona

Long Hours......

If you wanted to earn decent money above the norm you had to put in long hours somewhere and keep working seven days a week, six days a week was considered normal in working classes in my generation. Its changed now, for the better possibly.

Learning the Trade......

I was enjoying the stonework and getting more and more into it, and more and more skilled at it. Self-taught, with help from others and getting more knowledge and gaining a terrific amount of knowledge. Because if you want to know how buildings go together, coming out of construction that was what I was good at, was actually sort of putting bnuildings together, that were old and falling to bits and taking them down and putting them up again, very much in a traditional way.

Stone Masons and Architects......

Interviewer: What exactly happens from the moment you have to get the stone first....?

Yeah, it is not straight forward, cause a client comes to you and says first of all they want a building, so often we hope they got themselves a very good architect, who understands masonry. It's not always the case, but more so we are in a situation where if the client doesn't understand then we get involved in sort of putting that understanding into the client and his architects, and into his technical side, his engineers, his building firm.

Safety Regulations in the Trade......

So things are and as expensive probably, this plain costs a lot of money, but you know we are not killing blokes, wrecking blokes. It is no longer, no way near as dangerous.

Interviewer: What about the safety regulations, have they altered a bit?

They've altered considerably. I don't believe it's affected block stoine quarrying in any way at all really, people moan about health and safety but basically uarrying and the stone industry, I mean we have never killed a guy in my twelve of thirteen years, or even injured a guy.

Changes in the Trade......

Interviewer: What things have changed in the actual physical way you use the stone and work?

I think in a subtle way everything has changed, as I have said, I have already covered quarrying, how that's become more efficient. Whereas four guys, you would even see them twelve years ago, stood at the quarry witha rock drill all day. Now you will find this four guys gone and they have no longer got their muscles ruined with hanging on to pnuematic drills all day and there is two machines, you know, probably more investment so the cost is still there.

Learning the Skills......

Basically skills are there, we have apprentice masons, we train them in a completely traditional way that would have changed much in its perception, only its time period sadly, is shorter for modern apprentices.

Interviewer: What sort of time period?

Well, two years now whereas, you know, when I was a boy you didn't do a trading thing until you were out for five years and was a good trade. But now time has moved on, boys need a wage because they can be married at 20, 18. So you know...

Interviewer: They learn in a different way?

They learn in a different way and I don't think they are as good for it actually, because you can't grasp most of the artisan trades like brick laying, carpentry. I think there is a general decline in the standards within the construction company.

Major Changes within the Trade......

I think the greatest movement first is the computer controlled saws with profiling, and I think the basic, the major sort of move up for the masons is not suprisingly: people. Imagine they see guys with air-tools and pneumatic guns. These don't greatly improve the lifestyle or efficiency of the mason. The basic nine-inch angle-grinder saves their arms and wrists and bodies a whole lot of pounding over decades, and that single item that has always been there, for many years. The nine-inch angle grinder has been the greatest advancement.