Building history brought to life

Thursday 6 February 2014

Students at Bedford College are known for learning the very latest technology skills, but in some cases they are going back in time to study ancient crafts.

The construction department has been working on two key local heritage projects which have enabled trainees to see close up the techniques required to match the work of builders in years gone by. In the process they are helping to keep alive building techniques necessary to undertake authentic restorations.

At the Clophill Heritage Trust project, students were filmed by the BBC for two programmes.

Appearing in an English Heritage-supported TV series about ancient monuments at risk, Bedford College has been working with the Trust on restoring an old lock-up and pound in the village.

Britain’s Hidden Heritage programme showed students repointing the brickwork of the ancient monument St Mary’s Church. Presented by John Sargent, the programme was screened in December 2013.

Meanwhile in Bedford High Street, Bedford College students have been fulfilling an educational element of Bedford’s “Townscape Heritage Initiative” project, funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, Bedford Borough Council and BedfordBID. The project is restoring historic buildings along Bedford High Street and most recently trainee Andrew Nicholas has been involved in decorating the exterior of a long term vacant property that has now opened as an arts café.

David Wilkins, Assistant Director - Construction, at Bedford College said: “These are valuable opportunities for our students and trainees to see first-hand what skilled craftsmanship looks like in action.”

“If these skills are to be passed on from one generation to another, this sort of work is vital. Only then can our ancient buildings be kept in good condition with authentic restoration work.”

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