A local building course has proven life changing for one attendee. Craig Milburn, who completed the Traditional Building Skills programme thanks to a bursary granted by City & Country, was so inspired that he subsequently launched his own restoration business; Shire Conservation.
The course, which is provided by Essex County Council, teaches vital skills such as timber framing, flint walling, thatching and wrought ironwork to ensure that these skills are not forgotten. City & Country (WhatHouse? Housebuilder of the Year 2014) has supported the Council run programme since 2008, and with skills and knowledge gaps affecting the heritage sector the company continues to provide the bursary.
Craig, who was a student when he initially enrolled, comments: “I was already passionate about heritage and listed buildings and was immediately drawn to the course. At the time I was travelling from Kent to Essex, in the early stages of setting up my business, as well as studying, so funds were low. The bursary provided by City & Country was invaluable - without it I would not have been able to join the course.”
As well as teaching practical skills, the course aims to inspire and encourage an appreciation and understanding of heritage development; a niche sector of the construction industry. Craig continues: “One of the main benefits of the course was the practical training. We worked on real life projects in a historic environment which gave me a crucial insight into working in the industry. The course also helped me to understand the thinking and passion that conservation professionals put into their projects. It was incredibly inspirational and it confirmed my lifelong ambition to start my own business - I would say that I found the course life changing.”
Helen Moore, Managing Director at City & Country, comments “There is a clear shortage of trained heritage builders in the market armed with the necessary skills and passion to deal with Listed buildings. At City & Country we believe in breathing new life into often redundant and long forgotten buildings and therefore it is imperative for us to support men and women entering into this profession."
She continued: “We’re absolutely delighted that in this instance the City & Country bursary allowed Craig to develop his own business within the field. We are pleased to continue our relationship with Essex County Council, and we will continue to support the course for the foreseeable future.”
Katie Seabright, Historic Buildings Education Consultant at Essex Country Council, comments: “With about 14,000 listed buildings in Essex we face a considerable challenge in maintaining our built heritage, which is heightened by a shortage of skilled craftsmen. The support City & Country gives to the traditional building skills training programme helps to address this issue locally. The City & Country bursary has allowed those who would otherwise not consider attending a course because of financial implications to enhance their knowledge and understanding of traditional building techniques and materials. This in turn has allowed them to learn how to work with listed buildings, and therefore better maintain Essex’s built heritage.”
City & Country has an outstanding reputation for the expert restoration and conversion of listed buildings. The company’s expansive portfolio includes sites across the UK, including The Galleries in Brentwood (the Tudor-influenced red brick buildings of the Grade II listed former Warley hospital), The General in Bristol (the Grade II listed former Bristol General Hospital) and Bentley Priory in London (originally built in 1766 and headquarters of Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain), to name but a few.
Major new development King Edward VII Estate, one of the finest examples of Arts and Crafts architecture in the country, will launch to the public this year, whilst significant acquisitions recently announced include:
Bramshill House, Hampshire
Sundridge Park Manor, Bromley
Donaldson’s College, Edinburgh
Burderop Park, Swindon
Factory 1, Bristol
HMP Gloucester, HMP Shepton Mallet, HMP Kingston (Portsmouth) and HMP Dorchester
« all news articles