15th August 2019

Heritage Construction and Skills – the Exeter Hub brings together traditional trades

The CIOB believes that most construction professionals will work on historic buildings at some point in their career - in the UK alone, 50% of all construction works are on traditional buildings.

While there are standards, training schemes and qualifications focussed on modern methods of construction, the CIOB is known for, among other things, its annual conservation conference and specialist conservation courses and webinars. The CIOB has long recognised how important it is to promote and support the skills and knowledge needed to conserve, repair and refurbish historic and traditional buildings.

CIOB members in the south west are now having attention turned to the conservation of heritage buildings in the region. Members of the CIOB’s Exeter Hub, together with local students and professionals with an interest in conservation, are invited to an autumn event to raise the profile of and celebrate heritage trades in our industry.

West Town Farm in Ide will become the venue for a late summer showcase event. West Town Farm is a working, organic, family-friendly farm set in rolling Devon hills. With support from the National Trust, a number of traditional trades including thatchers, dry stone wallers and stonemasons are volunteering their time and expertise to demonstrate their craft. Some of them will also be able to give attendees the chance to try their hand at different crafts and potentially inspire a new generation.

We’re hoping that expert stonemasons from Exeter Cathedral and Castle Drogo will also be giving a demonstration of working with granite and locally mined materials.

There will also be a 45 minute Continuing Professional Development session on fire protection in heritage properties, a particularly important and timely reminder for construction professionals.

The heritage sector remains an area under threat with skills shortages and experience and expertise being lost to future generations. Without these skills, our historic buildings will not be repaired and cared for, emphasising the need for sustained action to prevent further skills shortages in this sector.

As well as support from the National Trust, Constructing Excellence has also committed to sponsoring the event, which will include a BBQ, raffle and live music from a local band, all set within lush countryside.

The Exeter Hub is also proud to highlight the work of Building Greater Exeter, an Exeter City Council initiative designed to support the sector to meet its skilled labour requirements both now and in the future. Building Greater Exeter will also be sponsoring our event next month and encouraging school and college students to attend to highlight the diverse career paths available in our industry.

I’m anticipating that more than 100 people will attend. As Chair of the Exeter Hub, I’m proud that we’re providing something different and interactive. I hope that this event will demonstrate the importance of heritage crafts, which must continue to be considered sustainable in their widest sense. These trades also celebrate creativity and can appeal to those that are creative-minded as an alternative entry route to construction.

The Heritage Construction and Skills Event will run from 2.30 p.m. on 19 September 2019. Venue: West Town Farm, Ide, just outside Exeter. Tickets are just £5 for members and are available on the CIOB website.

I’m very much looking forward to seeing many of our regional members there, along with those who might want an insight into one of the more interesting and creative parts of our industry.

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