Bricklaying students use stone working skills at historic St Mary de Crypt

Image representing Bricklaying students use stone working skills at historic St Mary de Crypt

A group of Gloucestershire College’s Bricklaying students are working on restoring a historic wall at St Mary de Crypt Church in Gloucester, after having learnt traditional stone working skills especially for this unique project, which was set up and funded by the Southgate St Townscape Heritage Initiative.

The seven students recently spent two days at Woodchester Mansion gaining hands-on experience in traditional stonework and the use of lime mortar; learning what is required when working on heritage sites and practising the basics of stone cutting, fixing and pointing with lime mortar to gain ability and confidence.

The students include: Reece Worrall, Jordan Raine, Connor Smith, Ben Roche, Patrick O’Donoghue, Lewis Bigland and Nyasha Ndemera.

They trained under Woodchester Mansion Trust’s Training Director, Jonny Anderson, who has worked on iconic buildings including King’s College Cambridge, Trinity College Great Gate and the rebuilding of the pinnacles of the south tower of Westminster Abbey.

Over the next three weeks, the students will work part-time repairing the boundary wall to the churchyard at the renowned city centre church, which dates between 1461 and 1490, and lies within the Southgate Street Townscape Heritage Initiative area.

The project is part of a wider programme of built heritage restoration and community engagement. The repair of the churchyard walls is a project being undertaken by the City Council to improve the appearance of the area.

Rector Rev Canon, Nikki Arthy, said: “We are delighted to welcome students to St Mary de Crypt for this exciting project. It’s good to be working in partnership with the THI, seeing new skills acquired by young people as our heritage is restored.

Gloucestershire College’s Construction Consultant, Rob Caton, said: “After training at the historic Woodchester Mansion, the students began work on the boundary wall at St Mary de Crypt and pretty soon they were receiving praise for their efforts from locals, passing tradespersons and Jonny himself, as their stone restoration looks as good as the original work.

“Bricklaying and stonemasonry, though closely related, are two separate crafts and engaging with this project has given the students a valuable insight into the methods and techniques used by stonemasons. The majority of bricklayers will experience working with stone during their careers and this work experience means that these students already have a considerable amount of knowledge in working with limestone and lime mortars. 

“Hopefully some may use the experience to seek work in the heritage sector, which needs craftspeople able to understand the structural and aesthetic requirements of traditional building materials; a knowledge that all the students agreed they had learnt the basics of by coming on the project.” 

For more information about Bricklaying courses at Gloucestershire College, watch GC The Movie at www.gloscol.ac.uk/construction or call Student Services on 0345 155 2020.

See more pictures of the students at work here.

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