Heritage skills

I spent the afternoon at an IHBC Education, Training and Skills committee today. We were kindly hosted by the Building Crafts College located right next door to Stratford Station in East London, and in the shadow of the Olympic Park. The College dates back over 100 years, and is governed by the Worshipful Company of Carpenters, one of the ancient City of London Livery Companies. After a vigorous discussion around the committee table on aspects of the professional institute’s skills agenda, including prioritising what the IHBC might need to focus its education efforts on, we had the opportunity to tour the College. For me, this was a magical experience as we passed through workshops with students producing both intricate and robust pieces of craftsmanship in both wood and stone. This included a project using bog oak, dating back 5000 years – with the end product to be a 40 feet long dining table (from a single trunk!) as a contribution to the last year’s Jubilee celebrations. My favourite aspect of the tour however was the cladding produced for the masonry tutor’s office – a chance to display the technical skill and creativity which is so under-appreciated when labelled as ‘vocational training’.


Author: Ian Baxter

Heritage management / historic preservation academic at Heriot-Watt University; Vice-Chair of the Built Environment Forum Scotland (BEFS); Trustee of The Heritage Alliance. Obsessed by administrative histories of heritage organisations, heritage signs, and the design of site guidebooks.

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