In June to July 2022 we hosted a 6-week long sector-based work academy (SWAP) at Calverley Old Hall. Designed for up to 12 adults (18 years and older) looking to develop their skills and experience in building and construction methods and to learn traditional craft skills in the hopes of securing employment in the construction industry.
Further details about SWAPs
Taster Days - 24 or 25 May 2022
First we ran a couple of taster days. These were designed to allow potential SWAP participants to find out more, have a go and decide if they would like to commit to the 6-week long SWAP.
The taster days included:
- An introduction to building conservation
- The benefits of heritage apprenticeships
Demonstrations and have-a-go:
- Lime slaking
- Lime plastering
The SWAP - 13 June – 22 July 2022
We started with a tour of Calverley Old Hall, led by Andy and Darren from our main contractors on the project, Dobsons Construction Ltd. The group donned their hard hats and high vis vests to see the construction work currently taking place and to learn more about what is planned on the site.
The middle of the week was spent with Sam Baxter and Nigel Copsey, learning about stone masonry and hot lime mortar mixing. The group managed to build this incredible wall using recycled stone from Calverley Old Hall over the course of just 3 days working with these traditional craft materials.
On Friday, we were treated to a fantastic tour of the First Cloth Hall in Leeds, one of the most important and historic buildings in the city centre by Phil, the Head of Conservation at Leeds City Council and Steve from Rushbond PLC.
The group also had a chance to visit the ongoing development at Rose Court in Headingley, a 19th century Grade II Listed former girls school. We were lucky enough to be given the opportunity to explore the building with Site Manager Liam from Bowcliffe Ltd, who, with help from the project architect Peter, explained the work which is taking place on site, giving our SWAP participants chance to compare this unique site with our own Calverley Old Hall.
The second week has been a very warm but exciting week on site for our participants. We have spent this week working with Simon Dunn to erect our timber framed building in the community garden at Calverley Old Hall. As you can see, at 3.5m wide x 5m tall x 7m long, the timber framed building is a significant structure, a very impressive achievement for a week’s work! The building will remain on site for use as part of the community space for at least the next 12 months, so it needs to be sturdy and ready to tackle the Yorkshire weather.
Monday was spent learning more about joinery techniques and the importance of being safe when working with timber, before getting stuck into the main event of laying out the framework for the rear wall of the building.
Once assembled and joined together on the ground, Tuesday’s job was to lift the rear wall into place, supported quickly with the addition of two side walls and front frame, all added by the end of the day!
Roof trusses were assembled and the weather boarding was added on Wednesday, before the remainder of the roof trusses and sheeting was added on Thursday.
During the third week, the focus was on filling in the panels of the timber-framed building using various lime plaster techniques. Mark Womersley, from Womersleys Ltd was the tutor for the week and got the participants started straight away nailing the hazel wattle into some of the panels as the basis for wattle and daub. They then used a clay and straw mix as the daub and got very messy in the process.
Mark also taught the group about different types of lime plaster and materials to plaster on to, with a particular emphasis on how we can use traditional techniques and materials with a modern twist to improve their energy efficiency credentials. Some of the panels used insulated softwood fibreboards with a manufactured lime render called Prepbond. Others used insulated lime plaster made from hydrolic lime and glass beads on a riven chestnut lath. The hollow glass beads act as air bubbles. Bubbles of air hold the heat better so they help to improve the energy efficiency of the walls. However, they are a more environmentally friendly choice than using polystyrene or other plastic based products.
Other panels featured the following materials:
- Stone slate flagstone
- Haired lime render on riven chestnut lath
- Sandstone infill bedded on lime mortar
- Wood wool panels with haired lime plaster, gypsum and fine stuff
We also left a couple of panels empty as windows to provide some natural light.
On Thursday and Friday a few of the participants had a go at decorating some of the plaster panels. They had visited the painted room on day one of the SWAP, and with some photo reminders, they used the artwork from our wall paintings to inspire their own creative efforts. You might recognise a griffin, fruit and roses.
We started the week with a visit to Esholt Hall, now owned by Yorkshire Water. Built in 1706 by Sir Walter Calverley, the Grade II* Listed property is significantly larger than Calverley Old Hall, and built in a completely different, more renaissance style. The participants were given a tour of the grounds and hall by Yorkshire Water’s Peter Coddington, who spoke to the group about the history of the building and the planned future of the site, with participants able to see the work which is already taking place to restore a walled kitchen garden to the site. They also had the opportunity to see the remains of the medieval nunnery in the basement of the hall, on top of which the Calverley family built their new residence.
We followed our visit to Esholt with a visit on Tuesday to The National Trust’s beautiful East Riddlesden Hall. We were introduced to the fascinating history of the building by the wonderful volunteers on site, before the group had the opportunity to examine some of the repairs which have taken place at the property with House and Collections Officer Amy Gregory and Senior Building Surveyor for the north region David Coope. The group were able to identify repairs that had been undertaken using traditional craft skills similar to those used at Calverley, which they have been learning about over the past few weeks. On Tuesday afternoon the group were treated to a fantastic tour of Cliffe Castle in Keighley by Community Curator Heather Millard, who explained the history of the domestic property-turned-museum and introduced the group to the museum’s incredible stained-glass collection, which gave them an insight into the work that they were undertaking for the remainder of the week.
For the rest of the week, the SWAP participants were given the opportunity to work with Jonathan Cooke, a talented stained-glass artist and conservator who we are lucky enough to have based in the local area. The group had been able to see some of Jonathan’s conservation work in situ at Cliffe Castle, before spending the rest of the week creating their own leaded window. Over the course of three days, Jonathan introduced the participants to the tricky art of glass cutting and painting, before they were able to finish their pieces off in lead. As you can see, the results were incredible, real works of art!
This has been a more relaxed week on site, with participants largely spending time preparing their applications for the 2-year funded apprenticeship positions which are on offer at the end of the six-week process. The Landmark Trust have offered advice and employability tips in order to help provide all participants with the equal opportunity to apply for the apprenticeship should they wish to do so.
On Wednesday, participants also had the chance to work with professional bricklayer Colin, who is currently subcontracted by Dobson’s construction on the Calverley Old Halll restoration project. Colin showed them some of the different techniques employed when working with bricks on site. They were taught about the importance of getting a correct mix and laying a bed correctly, providing them with the skills required to build themselves a small brick garden structure going forward.
This week marked the end of our 6-week Sector Based Work Academy Programme based at Calverley Old Hall. Over the past six weeks, participants have had the opportunity to take part in lime burning and stone masonry, joinery, lime plastering, leaded lights and brickwork, as well as having the chance to visit a range of other historic buildings in the local area.
The final week of the SWAP was a fantastic week of joinery and lime plastering. The first three days were spent working on shaping and fitting mullion windows for the timber framed building with Simon Dunn, from History in the Making. Simon returned after building the Timber framed building in week 2 with the group. Participants were also given the opportunity to make their own three or four legged stool, which they were able to take away as a lovely reminder of all their hard work over the SWAP.
On Thursday, lime specialist Mark Womersley returned to complete the lime washing on the timber framed building, using a traditional, terracotta coloured wash over the top of the panels which had been created and in-filled in week three. Luckily there were no cracks to be seen in the panels, despite the heatwave.
We rounded off the six weeks with a trip to Carlton Lodge Activity Centre in Thirsk, where everybody had a go at archery and learned the basic skills needed to build a dry-stone wall.
We finished off the day with a very competitive game of archery and placed our very own Landmark Trust stone in the Carlton Lodge dry-stone wall, wonderfully carved by SWAP participant Patrick. The day was a fantastic final send-off to the SWAP for staff and participants alike.
The Landmark Trust would like to thank all of the tutors who have given their time and invaluable knowledge during the SWAP programme, and to the representatives from Rushbond PLC, Bowcliffe Limited, Leeds City Council, Yorkshire Water, Bradford Museums and Galleries, the National Trust and Carlton Lodge Activity Centre for helping to make this six week programme such a fantastic experience.
For more information about the Taster Days and Sector-based Work Academy Programme download an information pack.
Calverley Old Hall information pack