Stone masonry is one of the oldest and most respected trades in the construction industry. From ancient pyramids to the restoration of Notre Dame, masons have been responsible for some of the most impressive and enduring structures in human history.
This week, Master Mason Oliver Coe has been sharing his wealth of knowledge with the Tywi Centre’s NVQ3 Stonemasonry learners. Oliver explained that the group had been carefully dismantling and rebuilding a damaged run of historic deer park wall on National Trust’s Dinefwr Estate.
I was fortunate enough to join the group on a beautiful sunny day in the deer park as they finished off their work for the week. As he searched for a suitable stone, Matthew (Cadw Mason) explained to me that there are different paths that you can take as a mason. He has already qualified as a Banker Mason from Bath College. He decided to add heritage stonemasonry to his skillset as it will be a great advantage as he progresses his career.
Masonry is a hands-on trade and using a real work environment for the training was important. ‘Learning on a real project is more effective and engaging than in a college setting’ Chris (Wessex Conservation Company) explained. ‘We could only use the stone that was already on site, and we had to make decisions such as how to tie in with the existing wall and how far back to take the wall before rebuilding’.
I chatted with the group about their motivation. Max (Jones and Fraser Ltd) explained ‘I really enjoy working with stone and I want to learn as much as I can and become as good as I can. This course is great at helping to build confidence in our skills.’
I was very impressed with how much they had learnt in a week and how amazing the wall was looking by the end. Building a career in masonry takes skill, dedication and hard work. This group of masons showed all of this in abundance. I wish them all a successful and rewarding career in this timeless trade.