Visit to the Building Crafts College

The Building Crafts College was founded in 1893 by the Worshipful Company of Carpenters as the Trades Training School in the City of London. When it opened, it was the only establishment offering instruction and training in building crafts to young men. During the Second World War, over 3000 servicemen were trained as carpenters, blacksmiths and sheetmetal workers at the College. By 1947, the School had reverted to training apprentices for the construction industry and was renamed the Building Crafts Training School.

The original building became outdated and a new purpose-built College was opened in 2001 in Stratford, East London, to teach woodwork, carpentry, stonemasonry and other crafts. A ministerial launch of the National Heritage Training Group was held at the College, as well as the launch of the groundbreaking report Crafts in the English Countryside, with Griff Rhys Jones as guest speaker. Griff is well known for promoting traditional craft skills and presenting restoration and other similar television programmes.

Today, the College is an official Centre of Excellence in traditional building crafts and provides both craft and technical training to students. Building work on the nearby Olympic Games site for 2012 has been invaluable for the students' training programmes. The success of the College was marked by a new extension being funded, which was officially opened on 11 February 2009 by HRH Prince Charles, who was extremely impressed by the work being carried out by the College. The students' studies now embrace a BSc degree course for historic building conservation in association with Kingston University, and also numerous vocational qualifications in different crafts. Funding permitting, the College hopes its policy of crafting excellence can be extended to embrace other skills, such as thatching, wheelwrighting, blacksmithing and stained glass window development.

Thanks were extended to the Director of the College (Len Conway) and the staff and students, as well as Adrian Blacker of the SCI Construction Materials Group, who arranged the 25 June 2009 visit and ensured that it was interesting, informative and much appreciated by all who attended.

John Bensted, Chairman
Construction Materials Group

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