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Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Keeping traditional building skills alive in the New Forest

Building techniques such as timber-framed buildings, cob walling and lime plastering are still very much in demand in the New Forest.

Now thanks to funding from New Forest RDPE (Leader) programme* the New Forest National Park Authority has secured £20,000 to offer subsided training courses for these types of skills and techniques.

Kathryn Boler, the New Forest National Park Authority’s External Funding Officer, said: ‘The New Forest has a rich cultural heritage with a wide range of historic buildings which require specialist skills to maintain and alter them. There is a high demand from property owners for craftsmen with traditional skills and an understanding of how to repair and look after these buildings.

‘The heavily subsidised courses will offer workshops for local building companies and architects who wish to specialise in this type of work. It is important that historic buildings are well restored and preserved for future generations to enjoy.

‘The training also opens up new avenues for local craftsmen, allowing them to be more competitive and take on new areas of work.’

Steve Haley from Pennington went on a Lime Plastering course at Highbury College, Portsmouth. He said: ‘I read about the traditional skills funding in a local newspaper. I am pleased to say that my trip to college after almost 50 years was a pleasant experience.

‘I have worked on several period buildings in the New Forest using traditional building skills and it’s good to know there is subsidised training out there. I found the tutor extremely informative and they helped me perfect my lime plastering technique. I enjoyed the course so much that I am now going on a four day course to learn more about traditional lime plastering at West Dean College near Chichester.’

Local resident and Architect Julia Tremain has been on two workshops and said: ‘These courses represent excellent value for money. I have found it useful to take a step back from everyday work to look at the wider picture. On the lime plaster course we discussed how the building industry is moving away from the excessive use of cement based products to ones that enable buildings to breathe. This is especially important for old buildings but also relevant to new buildings as we move to more sustainable construction.’

The project provides training at a third of the usual cost and will take place at a number of specialists rural craft centres. The training is for small businesses of fewer than 10 employees, who are based in the New Forest.

If you would like to learn more or to find out what courses are on offer contact Kathryn Boler by email at or telephone 01590 646690.

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