Essex Chronicle - 26 February 2015
A carpenter launched a business restoring listed buildings after embarking on a “life-changing” Essex Country Council-run course.
Craig Millburn enrolled on the traditional building skills course after being backed by a bursary from property developer City & Country.
He was so inspired by what he learnt that he subsequently launched his own restoration firm called Shire Conservation.
Craig, who was a student when he initially enrolled, said: “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.
One of the main benefits of the course was the practical training. We worked on real-life projects in an 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 conversation 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”.
The course, which is run at Cressing Temple Barns near Braintree, teaches skills such as timber framing, flint walling, thatching and wrought ironwork.
Helen Moore, Managing Director at City and Country, said: “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 this profession.
We’re absolutely delighted that in this instance the City and Country development – a niche sector of the construction industry”.
Katie Seabright, a historic buildings education consultant at Essex County Council, said: “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 and Country gives to the traditional buildings skills training programme helps to address this issue locally.
The City and 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 and Country works to restore and convert listed buildings and boasts a portfolio of sites across the UK.
These include The Galleries in Brentwood, the Tudor-influenced red brick buildings of the Grade II listed former Warley Hospital, and Bentley Priory in London, which was built in 1866 and was headquarters of RAF Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain.
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