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Heritage Skills Initiative - traditional skill training

NECT, with funding through a variety of sources including 2 RDPE Leader programmes, English Heritage, lottery funding, and private grant giving trusts, ran an eight year programme of traditional skills training, conferences and skills festivals in Cumbria and the North East. This Heritage Skills Initiative, begun in 2007, gave over 200,000 hours of training to in excess of 8000 people, enabling some to acquire skills which would lead to new careers, enable participants to undertake renovation and maintenance work to their own homes and provided expert advice, guidance and training on a wide variety of traditional building, rural and craft skills.
Professional CPD training was provided through training sessions on live building projects, as well as masterclasses and lectures, creating better understanding of the processes in different disciplines within the building profession and so passing on uskills to as wide an audience as possible.

In Cumbria we were able to work on a wide range of projects including two castles near Penrith, a sheepfold on Helvellyn, a Quaker burial site, a Corn Mill at Beetham, as well as on churches, farms, and a variety of old houses. We held two very successful Skills festivals as part of our Cumbrian work - one at Carlisle Castle and one at Heron Corn Mill.

In the North East we worked on a range of sites from isolated ruins in rural Northumberland and County Durham, majestic coastal castles, historic houses, a lighthouse, a blacksmiths forge, heritage railways and museums as well as events based in both urban and natural landscapes. We held Skills Festivals at two National Trust p[roperties - Gibside and Souter Lighthouse and at Tynemouth Station.

The range of skills that were covered during these programmes included working with lime mortar, brickwork and stonemasonry skills, roofing and leadwork, blacksmithing, lime and hair plastering, cobblestone laying and repairs, surveying buildings, sash and box window repairs, heather thatching, limecrete flooring, dry stone walling and hedgelaying, woodland management, as well as upholstery, weaving and other textile work, pole lathe and green woodworking, raku and medieval pottery.