Wed | Sep 30, 2020

Errol Wallace making a difference with stones

Published:Friday | February 22, 2019 | 12:25 AMPaul H. Williams - -
The walls of this three-storey. 100-room museum at Kendal, Manchester are covered with polished cut limestone pieces.
The walls of this three-storey. 100-room museum at Kendal, Manchester are covered with polished cut limestone pieces.

Stones, stones, stones. They are all over the place on this ‘Rock’ called Jamaica. And in Jamaica, there are many men who spend their time earning a living from working with stones. They are stone masons. One such man is Errol Wallace of Greenvale in Mandeville, Manchester.

Wallace was born in St Elizabeth, where he went to school and studied carpentry. But after leaving school, he decided he wanted to do something different. Leathercraft was what he thought it would be. It, too, did not work out.

While he was working in a supermarket, he still mulled over what different he could really do, to make his dream come true. Then he met Clinton Carter, a stonemason, who invited him to be taught the skills of stonemasonry. Wallace took up the offer. He was about 20 years old at the time.

“I started to try it, and by trying I started to pick up on it, and get to love it. From I love to start to do it professionally,” Wallace recalled, and he is now a much-sought-after stonemason himself, working all over the country.It is about being skilful and creative he told The Gleaner, which caught up with him sometime last year while he was working on a wall.

Two of his most well-known projects were Emancipation Park where he was the lead stone mason, and the Heroes Circle perimeter wall, for which he was the one who acquired and cut the stones. Of note, he said, he was also the one who built the machine to cut the stone.

The Heroes Park project is now on hold, but Wallace is pre-occupied with other endeavours, such as the covering of the concrete walls of a 100-room, multi-floor Museum, near Kendal in Manchester.This museum is regarded one of its kind not only in Jamaica, but in all of the Caribbean.

The walls of the rooms of different sizes are covered with polished limestones of various shapes, sizes and shades (

white, pink, grey, blue, ash, yellow). The finished walls look like giant mosaics. While the owner, Dr Errol Miller, tells him what he wants, it is Wallace and his team who are making this architectural masterpiece a tangible manifestation of Miller’s idea.

Stone by stone the museum in a major work in progress, and when it is finished it should be a standout on Jamaica’s architectural landscape. The most challenging part of the job is working on scaffolding to cover the outer walls. But, Wallace is up to it. He and his team are experts, stone masons on The Rock.