Picture an extraordinary eight-week training project called "Ancient Connections- Heritage Skills Training" that aimed to provide a comprehensive and immersive learning experience in the fields of stone masonry, lime plastering, and traditional carpentry. This project was designed to equip participants with the necessary skills and knowledge to begin their journey in heritage construction.
The project was a huge success thanks to the fabulous learners- Brandon, Louis and Brandon from Pembrokeshire and Robert, Denny and Jorge from Wexford. And the partnership work with the Tywi Centre, Oliver Coe, Cyfle On-Site hub, and Wexford County Council.
During the first week of the program, the learners delved into the art of stone masonry. Master Mason, Oliver Coe (Coe Stone Ltd.) guided them through the process of selecting and working with different types of stone. The learners had the opportunity to work on small-scale projects, such as a dry stone wall, mixing and building with mortars, pointing, limewashing and building an arch, gradually building their confidence and understanding of the craft.
The second week focused on the intricate skill of lime plastering. Participants learned about the historical significance of lime plaster and its application in preserving and protecting heritage buildings. They were taught the art of preparing the lime mortar, applying it to various surfaces, and achieving different finishes. Under the guidance of experienced instructors Tom and Joe, participants practiced lime plastering techniques on mock surfaces, honing their skills in this ancient craft.
In the third week, traditional carpentry took centre stage. Learners explored the rich history and techniques associated with woodworking, with an emphasis on traditional methods. They learned to identify and select suitable timber, use traditional hand tools, and practiced putting together a scaled down timber framed roof structure.
The final week of the project returned to the art of stone carving and each learner produced a beautiful piece of carved stone using traditional techniques. The grand finale saw all of the learners completing the Level 3 Award in the Repair and Maintenance of Traditional Buildings. Congratulations to them all for passing with flying colours.
Throughout the four weeks, the project fostered a supportive and collaborative learning environment. In addition to technical training, participants engaged in discussions and workshops on heritage conservation, historical significance, and sustainability. Field trips to significant heritage sites including meeting the Cadw team at Bishops Palace, visiting Castell Henllys and historical town centres in St Davids, Fishguard and Haverfordwest, further enriched their understanding and appreciation of these crafts.
To ensure a lasting impact, each participant followed a 4-week work experience placement with a local heritage construction company. We would like to offer a huge thankyou to Cyfle On-site hub for supporting the work placements. We would also like to thank Tree and Son Ltd, Coe Stone Ltd, and Pembrokeshire Stonemasonry for welcoming the learners into their teams and providing them with the opportunity to work on some interesting heritage projects.
Through immersive experiences, hands-on learning, and work experience, it is hoped that the learners carry forward the legacy of these crafts and ensure their continuation for generations to come.