Croft Building and Conservation Ltd invited three construction students from Stourbridge College to complete fortnight-long work placements at Lye and Wollescote Chapel, a Grade II listed building.
“This is a unique restoration project where the students demonstrated a range of practical and specialist skills,” said Andy Hutchings, Site Manager at Croft Building and Conservation Ltd. “There is a danger of certain craft skills within heritage conservation dying out, so for the students to have picked up some expertise in this area so early on in their careers was ideal.”
Carpentry and joinery students, Alan Jones and Sean Walsh worked on the chapel’s flooring while student, Beth Yates painted the newly refurbished church entrance.
“Work experience like this is really useful in many ways,” said 24-year-old Sean from Dudley, a 24 year old carpentry and joinery student. “The oak flooring we helped to lay down is expensive, so Alan and I felt a bit of pressure, but once we got started we were fine. Croft gave us lots of positive feedback, which gives us confidence for the future.”
The restoration project began in March 2015 after successful grant applications to the Heritage Lottery Fund and other charitable sources.
John Woodall, Acting Chair of the West Midlands Historic Buildings Trust added: “Croft Building has been incredibly proactive in their community engagement throughout this project and we’re pleased this included bringing students on board for the construction work.
“Having achieved our aim of preventing the chapel from being an ‘at risk’ building to a much-loved community resource once again, The Trust hopes to introduce a series of education and training opportunities that both young people and adults can benefit from. These students’ work experience has been an excellent way to launch these new learning initiatives.”