Pembroke Town Walls Trust not only aims to restore the medieval stone walls surrounding the town, but also to rebuild the traditional stone masonry skills needed to employ skilled local people to do the work.
As an outcome of the Trust’s pilot project at the rear of the Tabernacle United Reformed Church, Pembrokeshire College took an important step in Spring 2018 half term week by hosting an introductory course in stonemasonry and lime mortars in their Construction Centre.
This was a three-day taster for ten students with some experience of building but wanting to learn more about stonemasonry. It was led by the Tywi Centre from Carmarthen and funded by the Construction Wales Innovation Centre (CWIC). Together the four organisations are taking steps to address the shortage of skills in Wales for working with older and traditional buildings.
The course was led by experienced tutor and stone mason Tom Duxbury. “What a pleasure it was to deliver this course. The group all worked well together and achieved seriously good samples of work. Everyone worked hard in their teams and I believe all the attendees took away beneficial knowledge and experience.”
As a result of this partnership developed between Pembroke Town Walls Trust, Pembrokeshire College and the Tywi Centre, nine Level 1 Bricklaying learners followed a twenty-week heritage construction course in Autumn to Spring terms 2019 /20 to support their learning.
The Basic Heritage Construction Skills course was funded by the Pembroke Town Walls Trust through HLF and offered to bricklaying students at the College who wanted to extend their skills.
The current curriculum for bricklayers does not include any content relating to traditional construction materials or methods although at least 30% of Pembrokeshire’s buildings were built before 1919. According to CITB, just under half of employers’ time is spent working on traditional buildings.
The aim is for the students to be able to put their new skills and knowledge into practice on a real construction site, to experience working on a listed structure and appreciate the importance of protecting it for future generations.
The students came to Pembroke on 26th February to look at the work the Pembroke Town Walls Trust has done and is planning for the future, and to receive their certificates.
The stonemasons who are now working on the north walls, have given a young man from Monkton work experience through the Cyfle scheme.
PTWT aims to develop this part of our work through Pembrokeshire Build Heritage CIC over the coming year.