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28 September 2023

Historical Buildings in Mid Wales at Risk as Skills Shortage Threatens Conservation Efforts


Historic and older buildings throughout Mid Wales are under threat due to a lack of skilled craftspeople, that’s the warning from one of the region’s architects.

A severe shortage of skilled craftspeople, specialising in stone masonry, carpentry, and other critical skills essential for building conservation work, could mean more listed buildings coming into disrepair, impacting on the area’s history.

Doug Hughes, Principal Architect and Managing Director of Hughes Architects said:

“In recent years, we've witnessed a concerning decline in the number of skilled craftspeople, particularly those proficient in stone masonry, carpentry, and other essential skills for building conservation work.”

“Our heritage buildings are not just structures; they are living legacies that connect us to our past and define our future. Without a new generation of craftspeople trained in the intricate art of building conservation, we stand to lose these treasures.”

Bethel Chapel in Newtown, Powys, serves as a poignant example of the challenges faced by historical buildings in the region. The collapse of its roof in 2021 highlights how, if left without necessary skilled maintenance, can lead to buildings like it being lost.

“The lack of skilled craftspeople poses a significant hurdle in the efforts to restore and preserve such structures, leaving many historical buildings at risk of a similar fate,” warned Doug.

He is calling on the Welsh Government, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), local colleges, and other stakeholders to take urgent action.

“Urgent steps are needed to create additional courses and training opportunities to nurture the next generation of skilled craftspeople. These programmes should cater to individuals of all ages, ensuring that these invaluable skills are passed down and preserved for future generations.

“We are willing to collaborate with educational institutions, government bodies, and fellow professionals to create a comprehensive strategy for addressing this shortage,” he added.

“These architectural treasures are not just relics of the past; they are living, breathing monuments to our history and culture. With the right investments in training and education, we can ensure that Mid Wales' architectural heritage remains intact for generations to come.”


 



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