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26TH FEB 2024

Construction Students Learn Heritage Skills at The Wesley, Community and Arts Centre in Cinderford

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Wesley Cinderford
Wesley Cinderford

Multiskills and Dry Lining students from Gloucestershire College’s Forest of Dean Campus have been getting hands-on experience as they help to restore The Wesley, Forest of Dean Community and Arts Centre in Cinderford. The students have worked with Cinderford Town Council, who have been delighted to offer a platform for the next generation of tradespeople to experience working on-site and learn traditional skills such as lime plastering, particularly as they have seen a shortage of skilled labour for work on heritage properties. 

With the work spanning over a couple of weeks, there has been plenty of opportunity for the students to gain valuable experience from the start to the end of the project. This includes preparing the backgrounds and removing render, working at height, and working with health and safety always in mind. The students have also been liaising with the project managers and contractors whilst completing the work, building their communication skills and getting real insight into how teams work on large scale projects.

Learning Heritage Skills

Matt Dunkley, Construction Lecturer at our Forest of Dean Campus, has a background in working on heritage properties and has been pleased to teach his students skills that they wouldn’t always be able to cover in a classroom.  

Working on the Grade II listed building, he said, “Like any normal job we’re uncovering extra works and we’ve found remedial works that are needed. It’s been really good for the students to see the importance of marrying materials together and learning about when to use sand and cement, and when to use lime and know how to work with it. And it’s all tied in with the practical skills they learn on their courses, too. It’s a great project and they see the value in what they’re doing, evidenced by how well they’re doing.”

Learning Heritage Skills

What work has been done?

The first phase of the project involved hacking off the render in The Wesley’s green room – a space at the back of the building used for performers to prepare before heading on stage. The walls needed a lot of attention, and whilst carrying out the works the group uncovered two brick walls that they thought would make a great feature. After liaising with the project manager, they decided to point and restore the walls as a feature, and continue to lime plaster the remaining walls.  

The students are now looking forward to lime plastering the ceiling, using specialist woodwool fibreboards to meet listed building regulations. They will then move along to lime plastering the walls and applying top coat plasters.  

The students have been overwhelmingly positive about the project and their experiences working on a real site in a larger group.

What work has been done?

Cam Bidmead, a Dry Lining student has been really enthusiastic about the project and making the most of the opportunity:  

“It’s great getting something to do outside of college because it’s good to get to do something different. Learning how health and safety issues affect the pace you’re working at, learning about new materials like lime plaster. It’ll be useful because I learnt it here. It’s good to see older buildings and seeing all the other problems that can crop up. Seeing things you don’t usually see in class. I can’t wait to put the lime on the walls and see the finished project. It’ll be nice to see it and think I did that.” 

As Cinderford Town Council looks to take on more projects to improve and restore important community spaces, the staff and students at GC are looking forward to working in conjunction with them again, combining valuable work experience with vital works within the local community.

Find out more about Construction or Dry Lining courses at Gloucestershire College’s Forest of Dean Campus here:
Construction Courses


Interested in teaching? We’re recruiting for our new Construction Centre at Cheltenham Campus:
Construction and Trades Vacancies