Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Skills Needed to Save Our Heritage; Winner: Stonemason Lucy Haugh Beat off Competition to Create a [Pounds Sterling]30,000 Sculpture

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Skills Needed to Save Our Heritage; Winner: Stonemason Lucy Haugh Beat off Competition to Create a [Pounds Sterling]30,000 Sculpture

Article excerpt

Byline: SARAH RICHARDSON

THE future of the five million pre-1919 buildings in England could be atrisk owing to serious skills and knowledge gaps with specialist workers andbuilding professionals, according to a recent report published by the NationalHeritage Training Group (NHTG).

While the shortage of skilled craftspeople to work on England's historicbuildings has been greatly reduced since the first NHTG report in 2005, most ofthe workforce undertaking repair and maintenance work does not possess all theskills required to do the job properly.

The Traditional Building Craft Skills in England study, backed byConstructionSkills, the Sector Skills Council for the construction industry,and English Heritage, shows that the shortage of craftspeople in this sectorhas reduced by 3,000 since 2005, when the NHTG announced a skills shortage of6,590.

The number of craftspeople in the sector is about 109,000 compared to fewerthan 90,000 in 2005. But with only 36 per cent of contractors working onpre-1919 buildings, it is estimated that only 33,000 craftspeople undertakework with traditional materials such as cob, wattle and daub and thatch andhave knowledge of the techniques needed for flint-knapping, stone masonry, leadworking and dry stone walling, for example.

Bill Martin is director of conservation at English Heritage. "The seriousshortage of craftspeople that was highlighted in our first report three yearsago captured the imagination of many people and has resulted in a huge renewalof interest in careers in the heritage build sector," he says.

"The 3,000-strong force of new blood is crucial to addressing the successionproblem within the sector. We may be reversing a trend but clearly there isstill lots to do to make sure the quality of work is maintained. These skillsissues affect not just listed buildings, but the whole swathe of undesignatedand locally important heritage and conservation areas that form an integralpart of the historic environment."

Lucy Haugh was among those inspired to try her hand at a traditional craft,when she gave up running a PR consultancy in Notting Hill to enrol at theBuilding Crafts College in Stratford, east London, to get her Diploma and NVQ3in stonemasonry.

Part of her BCC syllabus was taught in the Living Classroom at WoodchesterMansion in Gloucestershire, the only heritage site in the UK to offer on-siteskills training. Today Lucy supports her freelance career by two days a weekteaching at the Building Crafts College and one evening teaching lettercutting.

She continues her own lettering training one day a week at Richard Kindersley'sstudio in Kennington.

Lucy recently won a competition to design and create a [pounds sterling]30,000 sculpture for aflagship affordable housing scheme in Stratford. …

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