SPAB’s William Morris Craft Fellows 2015

SPAB’s William Morris Craft Fellows 2015

Three tradespeople, including a carpenter, have been chosen as the 2015 William Morris Craft Fellows.

Blacksmith Joe Coombes-Jackman, 22, carpenter Ben Hornberger, 26 and stone conservator Emma Teale, 36, are the latest recruits to a unique educational scheme designed to nurture and develop the hands-on skills needed to care for old buildings. Chosen as the 2015 William Morris Craft Fellows, the talented trio have now begun their countrywide conservation ‘grand tour’.

Since 1987 the SPAB (Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) has organised the Fellowship to foster a new generation of outstanding craftspeople with the knowledge and expertise to pass on essential skills for working with historic materials. The prestigious scheme runs in parallel to the SPAB’s Scholarship programme for architectural / building professionals.

The aim is for the Fellows to gain broad, practical experience and knowledge to enable them to bring a strong awareness of craft diversity to their future professional roles. The Fellowship also equips them with the skills necessary to lead and manage historic building contracts, while deepening their understanding of the importance of gentle repair – the keystone of the SPAB approach.

In March, our 2015 Fellows (and Scholars) began their six-month itinerary of site, workshop and studio visits. Starting with a week in London they have visited Hampton Court Palace and the Tower of London. They can look forward to lead welding at Norman and Underwood, the lead-casters who made the King Richard III ossuary, and an introduction to milling at Charlecote Mill in Warwick.

In the coming months their travels will take them to significant conservation projects, workshops and studios in all parts of the country where they will learn about traditional building techniques from skilled craftsmen and women who have already established careers in the field. Keep up to date with their progress on the SPAB’s blog dedicated to Fellows and Scholars:

SPAB FellowsInterest in craft building skills is steadily increasing as people turn to more sustainable and traditional methods of construction. Yet, ironically, these same skills are under threat as fewer young people are encouraged to pursue careers in these areas. Nationally, heritage bodies are concerned that there are simply not enough people training to continue Britain’s distinctive buildings crafts and each year SPAB’s Fellowship becomes more relevant. Three or four Fellowships are awarded each year depending on available funding. As usual, the SPAB’s 2015 Fellows are a committed and talented group (see biographies below) with each individual looking to enhance a particular skill and further their knowledge of traditional craft techniques.


The Fellowship
Craftspeople from any trade employed in the repair of historic buildings on site or in workshops and studios may apply. Candidates must have completed their apprenticeships and demonstrate a high degree of competence.

Fellows will have the opportunity to develop their own particular craft skill to new levels of excellence. The course of practical training is divided into three blocks of two months, enabling the Fellows to return to their employment in between each block.

During the first two blocks the Fellows travel in their group. They make daily site visits, study repair projects and meet professionals, contractors and craftsmen. On site they experience craftsmanship first-hand and discuss traditional building construction and techniques

The final block of training is devoted to the individual needs and interests of each fellow in consultation with their employers. The programme runs from mid-March to December. There are no course fees as training and administration costs are borne by SPAB as part of the award.

Many former fellows have risen to positions of responsibility where they are able to impart their knowledge, expertise and enthusiasm to other craft workers. The SPAB William Morris Craft Fellowship is helping to raise the standard of building conservation skills and the skills of the craftsmen and women involved.

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