Benjamin Outram’s Keystone - 1791
Written by Tim Castledine
Ripley & District Heritage Trust
This locally famous stone was for many years held in Butterley Hall, the headquarters of the Butterley Company.
Its existence was last recorded in the Company’s Ad Rem magazine of Spring 1952 where it was referred to as ‘the original keystone and the most cherished Butterley possession, being housed in the Head Offices’. In 1968, the Company was taken over by Jim Slater and the Wiles Group. Many of the Hall’s valuable contents were auctioned but some just disappeared. One such item was the keystone, and where it ended up remained a mystery for the past 50 years.
During summer 2020, Ripley Heritage Trust was contacted by a former Butterley employee, Mr Tom Denniford of Maidenhead. He had joined the Company in October 1967 as Group Surveyor and Land Agent. At that time, the Group Personnel Officer was Mr Peter Sanders and the two gentlemen kept in contact after leaving the Company.
Following the recent death of Mr Sanders, his stepson, Giles Berry, contacted Mr Denniford to ask if he wanted a stone dated 1791, previously owned by his stepfather. The stone was in a house in the village of Breinton, near Hereford and the house was up for sale. The stone was duly collected and is now on display in the Town Council’s Grosvenor Road office window where it will remain until it can hopefully be permanently displayed in a proposed Butterley Heritage Centre on the former Works site.