English Heritage plans to launch an apprenticeship scheme after receiving £11.2 million from the Hamish Ogston Foundation.
This is the largest donation English Heritage has ever received. The goal of the apprenticeship programme is to pass on the skill of flint-knapping, a type of stone masonry, to the next generation.
This initiative aims to “safeguard the future of 34 flint castles and abbeys in the East of England.” Over the next seven years, the scheme aims to train 48 young heritage skills apprentices and three professional apprentices. Most of these apprentices will be directly employed by English Heritage. They will also set up a heritage skills training centre in East Anglia and create an in-house heritage crafts team.
In addition to the formal apprenticeships being developed, the centre will work to raise awareness of heritage skills as a career choice. The goal is to show school children the opportunities of working on heritage buildings and offer practical experience to student trainees.
Flint-knapping is considered an endangered skill, and English Heritage plans to address this decline by offering apprenticeships in flint and stone masonry, as well as heritage brickwork. Numerous English Heritage properties are poised to benefit from this initiative, spanning regions like Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, and Suffolk.
Robert Bargery, Heritage Project Director of the Hamish Ogston Foundation, said: “Heritage skills like flint knapping are the timeless threads that weave our past with our future. The art of flintknapping is at a severe risk of extinction with only a handful of specialists left in the UK. This latest grant from the Hamish Ogston Foundation to English Heritage will help to secure a new generation of specialists, so that we can combat this skills shortage and ensure that historic buildings at-risk can be preserved for years to come.”