Students from East Kent College got a lesson in heritage construction techniques when stonemasons from Canterbury Cathedral’s team visited.
Expert Stonemasons Emlyn Harris, Benn Swinfield and Heather Newton – who all work at Canterbury Cathedral – visited the College’s Folkestone Campus to deliver talks on conservation techniques and heritage work.
Apprentices and full-time students on the Maintenance Operations course learnt about the history of stonemasonry from the experts, before getting the chance to craft their own voisures (wedge-shaped stones that make a Romanesque rough stone arch) using reclaimed bath limestone from the Cathedral itself. Each student was able to carve their initials into their individual voisure, and the completed arch is set to form a focal point in the planned new brickwork workshop on the campus.
Students also got to experience another heritage construction technique when metalworker Nigel Johnston from the Lead Sheet Association visited. Mr Johnston carried out a series of demonstrations on how components for heritage and modern construction are produced before showing students how to maintain lead work on buildings.
The students got two sessions with both the team from the Cathedral and the Lead Sheet Association trainer. The visits were arranged as part of the Folkestone Townscape Heritage Initiative. The initiative – which is partially funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund – is a partnership between Shepway District Council, Kent County Council and the Creative Foundation.
East Kent College’s Folkestone Campus Programme Director for Construction, David Rowe, said that the training would give students a better idea of different career pathways they could take.
Mr Rowe said: “The training initiative is giving our students some really valuable new skills in addition to those they receive during their courses. The heritage careers available locally can at times be overlooked, so by getting these inspirational trainers in we’ve given students a much better insight into the various opportunities they could have when they finish their learning with the College.”
The training programme will also see students receive workshops on working with lime, and other traditional buildings materials and also conservation of historic buildings. Students will also take a tour of Canterbury Cathedral in March to see the work stonemasons are doing to conserve the building.