Craftsmen and women who go on William Morris Craft Fellowships are amazed at how much they learn, what a great time they have and what a boost it gives to their careers by having it on their CVs. It is a unique and life-changing opportunity.
The Fellowship is an advanced training scheme run by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB). It encourages and nurtures people from any trade employed in the repair of historic buildings – including, of course, stonemasons.
And national concern at the lack of people with the skills needed to care for Britain’s historic buildings and structures, both now and into the future, means this opportunity is becoming increasingly relevant.
Applications are invited now from committed craftsmen and women interested in SPAB’s 2012 William Morris Craft Fellowship. Up to four successful candidates will form a small band next year, travelling together throughout the country to learn more about traditional building crafts from some of the best in the trades.
Since 1986 SPAB has organised and administered the Fellowship to promote and develop the specialised skills required for the repair and maintenance of historic buildings and to promote understanding of the importance of conservative repair. Former Fellows have included carpenters, masons, thatchers, plasterers and glaziers.
Following the tradition of the medieval ‘journeyman craftsman’ – skilled workers who travelled from town to town to ply their trade - SPAB’s successful Fellowship applicants travel the length and breadth of the country together to learn about the widest possible variety of traditional building skills and repair techniques from established experts. It is the only training scheme of this kind in the UK.
Three or four Fellowships are awarded each year, depending on available funding. The aim is to create a new generation of outstanding craftsmen and women who are able to pass on their knowledge, enthusiasm and expertise. Many previous Fellows have risen to positions of great responsibility as the Fellowship is seen as a prestigious opportunity, equipping skilled craftsmen and women for promotion.
Along with gaining broad experience, Fellows have the opportunity to develop their own particular craft to new levels of excellence. Their six-month practical training is divided into three blocks of two months, enabling them to return to their employment between each block.
During the first two blocks the Fellows travel as a group, making daily site visits, studying repair projects and meeting professionals, contractors and craftspeople. The final block of training is devoted to the individual needs and interests of each Fellow in consultation with their employers.
Anyone in any trade employed in the repair of historic buildings on site or in workshops and studios may apply for the Fellowship, although candidates are expected to have completed their apprenticeships and be able to demonstrate a high degree of competence. Fellows are usually in their 20s or 30s, but older candidates are not excluded.
Dave Davies, a Fellow in 2009, says: “The Fellowship really changed the way I look at buildings. It also gave me the opportunity to meet some fabulous building professionals and tradesmen and tap into their wealth of knowledge. Ultimately, the experience proved to be inspiring, informative, thought provoking - and quite an adventure!”
The programme runs from mid March to Christmas.
- There are no course fees as training and administration costs are borne by SPAB as part of the award.
- Fellows also receive a bursary towards basic travel and living expenses.
SPAB is inviting applications now for the 2012 William Morris Craft Fellowship. For further information or to obtain an application form please write to the Education Officer, SPAB, 37 Spital Square, London E1 6DY or email: [email protected]
The closing date for applications is 1 January 2012. Interviews are held in London at the end of January.