We welcome applications for 2023 from 1st June 2022 until 14th September 2022. Craftspeople in any trade employed in the repair of historic buildings are eligible.
The whole experience was first class; being introduced to experienced experts, site visits on varied and hugely interesting projects, hands on experience in different crafts and constant dialogue and conversation amongst the people we met and between ourselves as a group of four Fellows. We were a strong group. We got on well, respected each other and taught each other a great deal. For me, the absolute best bits were the hands-on experiences and travelling to so many different parts of the country.
Matt Wilson 2019 bricklayer Fellow
The SPAB’s William Morris Craft Fellowship was founded in 1987 to address the shortage of craft skills and to champion the importance of craftspeople that carry out repairs. This unique annual scheme is designed to broaden the skills and experience of craftspeople from any trade who work in the repair of historic buildings. The programme gives Fellows the chance to travel countrywide together and learn on site from specialist craftspeople, architects, surveyors and others working in building conservation.
For the building companies that employ a Fellow there is the direct advantage of having a specially trained craftsperson on site, as well as tangible evidence of a serious commitment to conservation when tendering for and administering major historic building contracts.
We are proud to see Fellows passing through our programme with a desire to pass their knowledge and attention to detail on to others, often rising to positions of responsibility on site and inspiring others to develop their craft skills to new levels of excellence.
In this way, the Fellowship programme helps raise the standard of building conservation skills, enhancing the status of all craftspeople employed on historic building sites.
The Fellowship programme is run by our Fellowship Officer Pip Soodeen
Three or four Fellowships are awarded each year, depending on funding. There is no course fee and Fellows will receive a bursary in the region of £6,500 to cover basic travel and living costs. Supplementary finance in the region of £2,000 is usually required. CITB grant funding may also be available for employers registered with CITB at least 12 months prior to the Fellowship programme. The York Consortium for Conservation and Craftsmanship provide tremendous support to individual Fellows on application. An additional SPAB bursary in the region of £3,500 for the directed period of work between blocks is available for our millwright training opportunity.
Teaching is based on site visits, with an emphasis on the practical approach, rather than classroom lectures. There are no formal submissions, but Fellows are required to keep an up-to-date notebook, recording daily visits, who and what they see, repair methods etc. Sketching as a means of communicating and recording details, is very much encouraged. Visits are guided by experts with support from an SPAB mentor (usually a past Fellow). Fellows make periodic verbal reports and share their notebooks with the SPAB’s Education and Training Committee throughout the programme.
The six-month programme is divided into three blocks of two months, enabling Fellows to return to work between blocks. Over the next few years, we are particularly looking to attract those interested or already working with mills of any type (see SPAB Fellowship – Millwright Training Opportunity in 'How to apply' download). Applicants interested in the millwright training opportunity will not return to their usual place of work between Fellowship blocks. Instead, an arranged period of work with millwrights and associated trades will be put in place. This must be agreed before acceptance of a Fellowship place. There will be an additional bursary allowance to cover a Fellow whilst they are on this directed period of work.
Running between March and December, the programme is full-time and intensive (including some weekends), so it is not possible to combine blocks with work or other forms of study. In the first two blocks, Fellows experience traditional materials, skills and repair techniques in workshops and through a range of site visits, arranged by the SPAB. The third block is tailored to the individual interests and training needs of each Fellow.
The SPAB favours a hands-on approach, giving Fellows the chance to develop their skills in their own craft and to try others, such as timber framing, lime plastering, thatching, blacksmithing, pargeting, flint knapping or stone masonry. On site, Fellows are encouraged to debate traditional building construction, causes of decay, repair techniques and use of materials. Fellows will from time-to-time travel with the SPAB Scholars (architects, surveyors and structural engineers) sharing knowledge, working together and learning about each other's professions, this interaction bridges the gap commonly faced in the workplace.
The SPAB recruits Scholars and Fellows on merit and is committed to eliminating discrimination and encouraging diversity in the sector. We particularly welcome applications by people from backgrounds under-represented in building conservation (such as those from a low socio-economic background, women and black and minority ethnic communities).
Please note that the offer of a SPAB Fellowship is subject to the applicant providing evidence of their right to live and work in the UK. The SPAB is not a registered sponsor body for the purpose of visa applications. Applicants from outside the UK and Ireland should check their eligibility for a UK visa before applying to the scheme. Information can be found on the government website.
Read more about our Fellows and Scholars on our blog. Please feel free to contact us to talk about your application: email@example.com. If you'd like to chat to someone who's lived the experience we can also put you in touch with a Fellow.
We are grateful to the supporters that make the Fellowship programme possible: The Ashley Family Foundation, Carpenters' Company Charitable Trust, DBR Ltd, Francis Coales Charitable Foundation, Historic England, Historic Environment Scotland, Stuart Heath Charitable Settlement, The William Morris Craft Fellowship Trust, Owlsworth IJP, Anonymous; as well as the many hosts who give their time, energy, expertise and hospitality to make the Fellowship possible.