In my previous career as an engineer in new product introduction, I learned all too well that ‘we are living in a material world’ (Madonna’s 1985 song Material Girl). Unlike working with systems or software issues, with hardware, one is up against the laws of nature. There are no workarounds; one has to work with materials, and that means understanding them – sometimes at the molecular level. That is one of the reasons I was drawn to the York conservation studies programme, which balances the theoretical and cultural aspects of conserving built heritage with a practical, hands-on approach and a strong grounding in traditional building materials and buildings crafts (we also say trades in North America). After completing the lime and stone module, I was intrigued about what I had learned, and left with a driving curiosity about the local quarries, stonemasons and quarrymen in my own part of the world, southern Alberta, Canada. Continue reading →
Our final visit of the day took us to the Grade II-listed St. Michael’s Church in Mytholmroyd (1847-1848), which was majorly affected by the Boxing Day floods of 2015. The rivers Elphin and Calder reached record heights, leaving 1.2m of water in the church and its adjacent hall, as well as causing devastation throughout the homes and businesses of Mytholmroyd. The Church still holds a relatively large congregation of between 60 and 80 people. It is difficult to imagine the heartache for those who not only lost their homes, but also their community building as a result of the flooding!
Following on from the visit to Heptonstall’s Wesleyan Methodist Chapel and Sunday school, the group made its way up to the village’s twin churches of St. Thomas. Upon arriving at the Church of St. Thomas the Apostle (1850-1854), the Churchwarden, Graham Kidd, gave us a brief context of the building.
The church is a good example of reflective and progressive approaches to architectural development. Continue reading →
The first site visit on the study tour was Hepstonstall Methodist Church (grade II*) and its neighbouring Sunday school building (unlisted but in the setting of a listed building). The church dates from 1764 and is said to be the oldest Methodist chapel in continual use (although apparently Yarm Chapel also makes this claim!). Originally the building was an interesting octagonal shape as approved by John Wesley, and used in a number of other Methodist chapels, but was extended in 1802. The Sunday school was built in 1891. Both buildings have significant condition problems. Continue reading →
Written by Eric Carter, Dan Edmunds & Sean Rawling, edited and introduced by Duncan Marks (all current York University MA in Conservation Studies students)
Reflecting recent developments in conservation, one of the running themes in the MA in Conservation Studies programme at York is the impact of climate change, and how this requires us to consider sustainability, retro-fitting, and post-disaster management of the built historic environment. Recently, too, the YCAA co-facilitated Resilient York, a successful day conference that explored ways in which York’s communities and historic buildings can be better prepared for the city’s frequent flooding.
It was therefore both timely and very much welcomed when YCAA member, Richard Storah of Storah Architecture, invited members, especially current MA students, to visit three sites in West Yorkshire’s beautiful Upper Calder Valley where he is leading restoration projects addressing different effects of climate change. Continue reading →
This year, the William Morris Craft Fellowship celebrates its thirtieth anniversary, and since its genesis in 1987 it has given over 100 craftspeople working on historic buildings the chance to step away from the workbench/scaffold/microscope and go behind the scenes of a great many recent and on-going conservation projects across the UK. Every year a group of three or four Fellows are chosen to travel together, guided and hosted by the architects, surveyors, engineers, conservators and craftspeople working on these fascinating projects. Continue reading →
Dr. Neil Macdonald presenting his paper at the Resilient York conference, 4 November 2016
Written by Sean Rawling, MA student in Conservation Studies (Historic Buildings)
Resilient York was held at the University of York on Friday 4th November 2016. This one-day conference brought together a vast and varied array of national experts aiming to discuss the effects of York’s 2015 Boxing Day floods and how the city can be better prepared to deal with them in the future. Continue reading →