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24 August 2007

£1Million scheme to save our Built Heritage gets under way at York Minster

To help address the high skills needs currently being encountered in the heritage sector, a new Traditional Building Skills Bursary Scheme has been launched, with the first trainee placement now in post in the Works Department at York Minster.

The four year Traditional Building Skills Bursary Scheme, worth £1m, is being largely funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (£900,000) and is being run in partnership with ConstructionSkills the National Heritage Training Group (NHTG), English Heritage, The National Trust, and Cadw.

The scheme is designed to assist both craftspeople with transferable skills and knowledge already working in the main construction industry and career changers who are seeking to obtain particular traditional building skills or experience in the heritage sector by funding and facilitating training placements with contractors and organisations. The main skills that the bursaries will be aimed at include brickwork, carpentry and joinery, fibrous plaster, lime plaster, stone masonry and conservation, leadwork and blacksmithing.

The first trainee will be working with the stone masons and carvers at the Minister for a six month period, to help develop their masonry, carving and stone conversation skills. His work will focus mainly on the Minster’s East Front, which is currently in urgent need of restoration.

Later in the month further Bursary placements will commence at various sites across the country including placements in:

  • Dunstable based Mathias Restoration Ltd at various UK sites with a placement offering brickwork experience
  • Newcastle based Historic Properties Restoration Ltd at various UK sites with a placement offering stonemasonry experience
  • Derby based S.M. Thatcher’s at various UK sites with a placement offering thatching experience

Other placements currently being advertised are earth building with Cob in Cornwall; lime render and pargetting with W.I. Sargent, based in East Anglia and stonemasonry at Hardwick Hall with the National Trust, with others to follow throughout the duration of the Scheme

Seamus Hanna, Heritage & Conservation Manager, ConstructionSkills said: “There is a need for more skilled craftspeople in the built heritage sector and this scheme offers practical training opportunities to those wanting to work in traditional building skills.

We are keen to work with employers who want to host placements and to hear from those keen to develop their skills in order to work in the heritage sector. This Scheme will benefit businesses, individuals and the wider built heritage sector .”

Mathew Hodgkinson, the First Bursary holder said: “Working in the built heritage sector, is a great occupation but not enough people realise that there are opportunities out there for them. The Bursary scheme will help people like me develop our skills so we can help preserve our fantastic built heritage.”

Richard Love from the Dry Stone Walling Association supports the Bursary Scheme. Richard said: “The opportunity to develop the Association using skilled people who will have the capability to pass on their skills will make a real difference to dry stone walling in the UK.”

The Bursary Scheme is open to business of all sizes and to help craftspeople, trainees and career changers work towards gaining NVQ3 (or equivalent) in relevant heritage skills.

More information is available from the scheme’s website


For more information about the Bursary Scheme please contact Clara Willett, Bursary Scheme Manager on 01442 890756 or

Notes for editors

About the built heritage sector

Pre-919 building stock forms a significant part of the built environment, representing 20% of the total building stock in England and Scotland and one-third in Wales, and in terms of sustainability it is imperative that these are appropriately maintained and repaired. Repair and maintenance on pre-1919 buildings is worth an estimated £5.2billion every year in England, Scotland and Wales, so it is a vital part of mainstream construction.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) enables communities to celebrate, look after and learn more about our diverse heritage. From our great museums and historic buildings to local parks and beauty spots or recording and celebrating traditions, customs and history, HLF grants open up our nation's heritage for everyone to enjoy. It has supported more than 26,000 projects, allocating £4 billion across the UK. Website: For further information, please contact Katie Owen , HLF Press Office, on tel:

020 7591 6036 mobile: 07973 613820.

ConstructionSkills is the Sector Skills Council for the construction industry. It is UK-wide and represents the whole industry from professional consultancies to major contractors and SMEs. Established as a Sector Skills Council in 2003, ConstructionSkills is working to deliver a safe, professional and fully qualified construction workforce.

ConstructionSkills is a partnership between CIC, CITB NI and CITB-ConstructionSkills. All three partners are committed to working together to deliver industry-led skills and training solutions through the Sector Skills Agreement for construction. We work to negotiate the best partnership and funding deals for the construction industry to help raise standards and we develop the skills products and services employers need.

The construction sector is central to the UK economy, generating almost 9% of UK GDP and with a turnover of more than £203bn a year. It employs 2.5 million people and requires a further 87,600 new entrants per year to 2011, as forecast by our Construction Skills Network.

For more information visit

The National Heritage Training Group (NHTG) is an independent specialist sector skills development group with a UK-wide remit to provide assistance with all aspects of recruiting, training, and qualifying the built heritage sector workforce of the construction industry. This is achieved by working in partnership with clients, heritage bodies, contractors, Trade Federations, Trades Unions and FE and private training providers to develop flexible training and skills development to ensure we have sufficiently skilled craftspeople to work on our UK historic building stock.


ConstructionSkills, the Sector Skills Council for the construction industry, in partnership with English Heritage and Historic Scotland, the advisers to Government on the historic environment in England and Scotland and Cadw, Welsh Assembly Government and the Environment and Heritage Service, Northern Ireland joined forces five years ago to form the (NHTG). This partnership proved to be an ideal means of addressing some of the existing labour and skills shortages in traditional building crafts trades.

English Heritage is a public body with responsibility for all aspects of protecting and promoting the historic environment. Officially known as the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England, English Heritage is an Executive Non-departmental Public Body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). Our powers and responsibilities are set out in the National Heritage Act (1983) and today we act as the government's advisor on the historic environment, we work with the office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Departments for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and for Trade and Industry. English Heritage is funded in part by the Government and in part from revenue earned from our historic properties and other services. For further information, please contact Renee Fok, Press Office on tel: 020 7973 3297.

The National Trust is Europe's biggest conservation organisation and looks after special places across England, Wales and Northern Ireland for ever, for everyone. People and places are at the heart of everything it does. Over 3.4 million members, 49, 000 volunteers, 500,000 schoolchildren, and millions of visitors, donors and supporters help the Trust look after its 300 historic houses and gardens, 700 miles of coastline and 250,000 hectares of open countryside.

Cadw is the Welsh Historic Monuments is the organization that has the responsibility for protecting, conserving and presenting ancient monuments and historic buildings in Wales. The name Cadw comes from the Welsh word that means "to keep" or "to preserve". It cares for over 100 ancient monuments and historic buildings of national importance, which are open to the public. . For more information visit

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