Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Stonemasons Carved Family Tradition in citya[euro][TM]s Cemetery; Father, Son Shared Love of Special Profession

Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Stonemasons Carved Family Tradition in citya[euro][TM]s Cemetery; Father, Son Shared Love of Special Profession

Article excerpt

STAN Cook remembers in precise detail his first day at work with Melrose and Fenwick Monumental Masons.

aThe 7th of May, 1946 a eight oaclock on a Monday morning,a he said. I suppose itas no surprise Stan can recall dates with such accuracy. Since he began his career as a 17-year-old apprentice stonemason, heas etched names and dates into countless headstones. Stan spent 50 years working as a stonemason a 42 of them in Mackay.

He spent the first eight years training under a master stonemason at Melrose and Fenwickas Cairns workshop.

aBack then, it was a true craft,a he said. aMost of the stonemasons around had come out from England. I was taught by masters in the craft who had a lifetime of skills theyad learned from the most experienced stonemasons in England.a

Melrose and Fenwick was one of Queenslandas first monumental masonry companies and prior to 1900 already had workshops throughout the state.

aIn 1954, they offered me the job to manage the branch here in Mackay,a Stan explained.

aWhen I arrived, there was none of the equipment wead had in Cairns a it was back to basics. Wead started using pneumonic hammers and drills but there was none of that here when I arrived.a

Having honed his skills as a traditional stone mason, Norm took over the business using traditional methods, with a hammer and chisel.

aIt was back to cutting by hand using the most basic equipment,a he remembers fondly.

Stanas son Norm Cook also recalls those early days.

Norm followed his fatheras footsteps into the business as a 15-year-old apprentice in 1971. He remembers being a young child watching his dad engraving slabs of granite by hand.

aThere was one light bulb in the workshop, hanging from the ceiling,a Norm said. aWhen it rained it was so dark you couldnat see a thing.a

Norm and Stan recount memories of working well into the night, shovelling soil and concrete at the old Mackay cemetery. …

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