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A community-focused approach to heritage

In 2012, recognising that skills shortages was one of the most significant issues affecting Great Yarmouth and its heritage, the Trust developed a strategic approach to the problem. Education, training and engagement were placed firmly at the centre of every project we undertook, at every level from concept through to completion. A model developed where entire projects were undertaken by volunteers and trainees, under the close supervision of heritage professionals, who monitored, advised and mentored the workforce.


This innovative model inspires a sense of civic pride and ownership in the work, creates a highly skilled and motivated workforce, and enables effective repair and preservation of our town’s rich heritage.

East Coast College  

In 2011, the Trust delivered a three-day training course for students at East Coast College, as a means to engage young people with traditional building skills. The scheme was designed and implemented with our partners The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Training was provided by specialists, and covered skills such as lime plastering, thatching, carpentry and flint-working. A presentation by the Trust’s Managing Director Darren Barker also enabled the students to discuss conservation issues, and learn about career opportunities in the sector.

In 2013, the Trust worked in partnership with East Coast College to deliver traditional skills and heritage training to construction students. The students worked towards an accredited Level 2 Award in Building Heritage, with practical work experience undertaken on the Trust’s Cemeteries Project. The Trust provided training in skills including surveying, recording and analysis, and practical skills in lime mortar work, masonry and stone consolidation.

Having completed their work experience, several students went on to volunteer with the St. Margaret’s Church project in Hopton-on-Sea. In this project, they were able to develop their knowledge by working with historic construction materials. 

Training on the Cemeteries Project  

From January – July 2013, the Trust delivered a free training programme to those in the community interested in gaining conservation skills, as part of our Cemeteries Project. In the first module of the programme, trainees learnt how to research, record and survey tombs and monuments which were in a state of disrepair. In the second module, basic conservation skills were taught, under the supervision of heritage professionals. Over the course of this programme, twenty-five monuments were repaired. 


As part of the Trust’s commitment to tacking local unemployment and the acute shortage of traditional skills, several apprentices have been trained on our projects and received vocational qualifications.


After several years of unemployment, Peter Laxton and David Harwood began working for the Trust as trainees on the Cemeteries Project, where they gained valuable skills and experience in traditional building techniques; including surveying, recording, masonry and working with lime mortar. After this, both continued working for the Trust, beginning a project at 133 King Street and undertaking a two year carpentry apprenticeship.

Engaging with heritage through art

The Trust has worked with a number of artists to engage the local community with heritage, particularly those groups deemed to be 'hard to reach'. 

One such example is  the Middlegate Community Garden on South Quay. Whilst this garden was being designed, built and planted, the artist Andrew Tanser worked in partnership with the Youth Offending Team to deliver workshops with young offenders from a nearby estate. The sense of ownership and pride which the young people’s involvement in the project instilled meant that the gardens are considered an important part of the area, and are respected by the local community.

Training at St Margaret's Church

In 2014, a free programme of training in flint-working was delivered at St. Margaret’s Church in Hopton-on-Sea. Practical training included surveying, flintknapping and working with lime. Trainees were also able to receive qualifications in First Aid and Construction Skills. 

During the repairs to the church tower, two of the trainees were also taught by Medieval Masonry Ltd., developing their knowledge of stonework repair and safe practice when working with more dangerous parts of the site. 

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