Talented craftspeople begin countrywide conservation tour
Metalworker Ross Buckley, 33, stonemason Naz Dmiuterko, 25, and stonemason Gary Holliday, 32 are the latest recruits to a unique educational scheme designed to nurture and develop the hands-on skills needed to care for old buildings. Chosen as the 2018 William Morris Craft Fellows, the talented group has now begun the countrywide conservation ‘grand tour’.
Since 1987 the SPAB (Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) has organised the Fellowship to foster a new generation of outstanding craftspeople with the knowledge and expertise to pass on essential skills for working with historic materials. The prestigious scheme runs in parallel to the SPAB’s Scholarship programme for architectural / building professionals.
The aim is for the Fellows to gain broad, practical experience and knowledge to enable them to bring a strong awareness of craft diversity to their future professional roles. The Fellowship also equips them with the skills necessary to lead and manage historic building contracts, while deepening their understanding of the importance of gentle repair - the keystone of the SPAB approach.
In March, our 2018 Fellows (and Scholars) began their six-month itinerary of site, workshop and studio visits. Starting with a week in the south east of England they have visited projects at Westminster Abbey and Hampton Court Palace, as well as small-scale projects in central London.
The group will move further afield over the next six months visiting castles in the Inner Hebrides, timber-framing in Sussex and slating in Lincolnshire. They will visit significant conservation projects, workshops and studios in all parts of the country where they will learn about traditional building techniques from skilled craftsmen and women who have already established careers in the field.
Interest in craft building skills is steadily increasing as people turn to more sustainable and traditional methods of construction. Yet, ironically, these same skills are under threat as fewer young people are encouraged to pursue careers in these areas. Nationally, heritage bodies are concerned that there are simply not enough people training to continue Britain’s distinctive buildings crafts and each year SPAB’s Fellowship becomes more relevant. Three or four Fellowships are awarded each year depending on available funding.
As usual, the SPAB’s 2018 Fellows are a committed and talented group (see biographies below) with each individual looking to enhance a particular skill and further their knowledge of traditional craft techniques.
2018 Fellows’ Biographies
Metalworker, G Filer Engineering, Isle of Wight
A Levels Product Design, Music & Physics, Sandown High School 2003 - 2005
Bachelor of Music, Thames Valley College 2005 – 2008
Qualified Teacher Status, Sandown Bay Academy 2009 – 2010
Ross has had an unconventional route into conservation: after working in the music industry he trained as a teacher and went on to teach wood and metal work to boys struggling with mainstream school. After leaving this role he moved on to an engineering workshop, Filer Engineering, where he immersed himself in all aspects of metalwork: welding, fabrication, machining and associated building work. At Filer Engineering Ross was given the opportunity to work on prestigious buildings on the Isle of Wight that he admired growing up. Most notably he worked on the Cowes’ 80 ton Babcock and Wilcox hammerhead crane that was on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register. Ross was the site manager on this project for six months and here he met SPAB Scholar, Robert Williams who introduced him to the Fellowship. Ross has always had an interest in heritage; architectural, mechanical, industrial and steam. He hopes the Fellowship will give him the authority and confidence to question the corner cutting decisions he sometimes encounters on site.
Stonemason, Cliveden Conservation, Berkshire
Prince’s Foundation Young Heritage Apprenticeship 2016 – 2017
NVQ Lev3 & Adv Stonemasonry, Building Craft College, London 2013 – 2016
BETC National Diploma for IT Practitioners, Westminster College 2008 – 2011
After realising a career in IT was not for him, Naz took jobs labouring on different sites so he could explore different trades. Seeing someone carving stone on site, Naz loved the idea of working with such an enduring material and began pursuing this as a career. He studied for three years at the Building Crafts College in Stratford where was awarded the Best Advanced Masonry Student, Student of the Year and the Medal of Excellence. With this mentor he built porticos, ballast railings, fireplaces and worked on stone cladding. With the Prince’s Foundation Naz worked at Woodchester Mansion, Canterbury and Worcester Cathedrals, Westminster Abbey and Ridgeway Forge. The course also brought small teams of students to work together to build a series of farm buildings on the Dumfries estate. Since joining Cliveden Conservation, Naz has built a pedestal at Stowe, worked with flint and hot lime stabilising the ruins of Reading Abbey, and most recently repairing the London Wall bastion. Naz says the beauty, hard work and accuracy that goes into caring for historic buildings inspires him, he has become passionate about the projects he’s worked on and likes to think he leaves a little bit of himself behind.
Stonemason, Durham Cathedral
City & Guilds NVQ Level 3 stonemasonry 2002 - 2005
Employment & Interests:
J.L.D. Stone, nr Durham 2001- 2005
Lambert Walker, Manchester 2005 - 2007
J.L.D. Stone 2007 - 2015
Durham Cathedral 2015 - 2017
Gary comes from a family of stone merchants involved in new build work but he chose to explore stone and historic buildings. He joined Lambert Walker, a specialist contractor dealing with historic building conservation, where he gained a reputation for being very knowledgeable and passionate about his work. He now works at Durham Cathedral where he is an integral part of the cathedral’s in-house masonry team. During the last year, Gary has been promoted to site supervisor at the cathedral and took on a lead role in their belfry tower repair project. Gary excels at nurturing the younger masons and enjoys passing on the skills he has learnt during his 18 years in the trade. Durham Cathedral hopes that Gary’s experience on the Fellowship will benefit the whole works yard.