2013 Yearbook

20 Y E A R B O O K 2 0 1 3 CONSERVATION TRAINING IN MAINSTREAM CONSTRUCTION CHARLES HIPPISLEY-COX Charles Hippisley-Cox BSc BA MBEng IHBC FHEA MCIAT studied geology before working as a historic building surveyor. He undertook architectural training as a mature student before working with John Ashurst at Bournemouth University. He is currently senior lecturer in building conservation in the Department of Architecture and 3D Design at Huddersfield University where he is also director for architectural technology. Here he discusses the development of building conservation courses at graduate and postgraduate levels in the UK, focussing on the conservation courses he has been involved in at the universities of Bournemouth and Huddersfield. In the early 1980s when I first started working in building conservation there seemed to be three or four ways of qualifying to work with historic buildings. There was, however, a considerable gulf between courses principally concerned with craft skills and those addressing the wider issues of art history, philosophy, context and so on. The senior professionals within the civil service at the Department of the Environment and those responsible for the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission (HBMC) were often from the ‘top’ universities and typically held arts or history-related degrees. Very few had any direct experience of ‘the trades’ and their site experience was usually limited. There were some notable exceptions, especially among those who had worked for the old Ministry of Works where there was a very worthy respect for genuine craftsmanship. That respect was based on well-established training regimes and traditional apprenticeships, including those produced by the excellent City and Guilds system. Many of the direct workforce were among the early casualties when English Heritage emerged from HBMC. During the early days of English Heritage a number of groundbreaking training schemes enabled the transfer of essential core trade skills to a new generation of craftspeople including a wide range of courses established at Fort Brockhurst in Hampshire. As an extension of this, it became apparent that there was a potential niche for a new type of graduate professional who would perhaps have a more holistic approach to building conservation in this new context. Up to this point, some of the graduates working in conservation would have moved across from related disciplines such as surveying, architecture and estate management along with those from a more traditional fine-arts background. At the level of local planning authorities the pattern was different, with graduates from the humanities becoming planners and sometimes moving sideways into conservation, sometimes with funding to undertake a postgraduate course. Conservation in Higher Education The introduction of conservation courses at undergraduate level was designed to generate a professional equipped to work within this local government framework, partly to deal with the substantial increase in listed buildings casework generated by re-listing (the ongoing process of revisiting the original lists) and the designation of conservation areas. Some of the new undergraduate courses launched in the early 1990s, such as those at Bournemouth University, proved to be very popular. This was especially true of the BSc Heritage Conservation, which included a wide range of related environmental disciplines from natural history, through archaeology and landscape to the built environment. The BSc Heritage Conservation course is no longer offered and a more specialised course in building conservation technology developed Architectural technology students consider a new visitor centre for Conisbrough Castle, South Yorkshire