Heritage skills and practical learning
Discover some of the heritage skills and techniques that have been used in the Underbanks.
Historic Clock Repair
Winter’s clock and figures are being carefully restored by the Cumbria Clock Company who specialise in clock repairs and have worked on some of the country’s most recognisable clocks including Big Ben.
Prior to construction works starting on Winter’s, the Cumbria Clock Company removed the clock, figures and its intricate mechanism from the building to restore them at their workshop in Penrith.
As part of the restoration, the figures (which depict a sailor, a soldier and Father Time) will be stripped back and repainted to faithfully reflect their original colours after years of unsympathetic painting.
As part of regeneration works in the Underbanks, the carriageway is being relayed using heritage-style setts.
In the past, roadways in towns and cities primarily used setts, until tarmac became widely used in the 19th century.
Setts have remained in the Underbanks, but due to the weight of vehicle traffic, the carriageway began to fail and was in desperate need of repair.
To prevent this re-occurring, new heritage-style setts have been bound together with high-strength mortar and laid above a reinforced concrete foundation.
Repointing is an essential part of historic restoration as gaps in brickwork can result in decay or cause moisture to enter buildings.
At 13 Little Underbank, repointing work was carried out by Maysand – a masonry and conservation specialist with vast experience in the restoration of historic buildings.
For this repointing, a traditional lime mortar containing an aggregate was mixed to colour match the existing pointing on the front elevation of 13 Little Underbank.
Masonry is defined as the building of structures from individual pieces. Common materials for masonry construction include brick and stone, such as marble, granite and limestone.
Working with historic buildings requires a deep understanding of past construction technology. As such, specialist contractors have been appointed to work on projects within the Underbanks.
At 13 Little Underbank, contractors Maysand have used their expertise in masonry to reinstate the building’s original stone shopfront. A mixture of machine detailing and hand sculpting has been used to match the stone texture to the existing façade.
See what skills people are developing as part of the Rediscovering the Underbanks project.
As part of the Rediscovering the Underbanks project, three apprentices will be recruited to work alongside the Townscape Heritage Manager. The apprentices will work towards Level 4 APM Project Management qualifications and gain valuable experience in heritage-led regeneration during their 20 month placements.
In March 2020, Natasha became the first project apprentice. After only three weeks in the office, and adapting to the challenges of remote working, Natasha passed her APM Exam in January 2021. Natasha is now busy creating a portfolio of evidence which will form the basis of her end-point assessment in November 2021.
“I have loved being a part of the Rediscovering the Underbanks project. It has given me the opportunity to engage with the community of Stockport and have a meaningful impact on the Underbanks area. As part of the apprenticeship I have developed my project management skills and applied these to the regeneration project. I have also learnt about the practicalities of regeneration and the positive effect it can have on local people and businesses.”
Natasha, Townscape Heritage Assistant
Recruitment for the next apprentice role will take place in Autumn 2021.
As part of the restoration of Winter’s, photography students from Stockport College have been documenting the work as it progresses.
“This is a great opportunity for our students to photograph an iconic building in Stockport. It gives them valuable experience capturing images in a real-world setting.”
Mario Popham, Photography Lecturer at Stockport College
The students first visited Winter’s in March 2021 to photograph the building prior to its restoration. Once construction works are underway, the students will return to capture the progress.
The students’ photography work is set to be exhibited in empty units across the town centre, including the Underbanks.
We are working alongside Stockport College and H.H. Smith & Sons to provide construction students with a valuable insight into the heritage techniques being used to restore Winter’s.
As part of their course, students have been researching the history of Winter’s and historic building techniques. When restrictions allow, students will have the opportunity to visit Winter’s and see professionals at work. In the meantime, H.H. Smith & Sons have been creating site videos to help students develop their understanding of the project. In the video below, Diane Whitfield from H.H. Smith & Sons gives you an introduction to the Winter’s project.
“Due to the current restrictions we have been unable to take students on site as we normally would. However, the videos have helped fill that practical experience gap and allowed students to understand different heritage techniques that are being used to restore Winter’s.”
Diane Whitfield, Bid and Compliance Co-ordinator at H.H. Smith & Sons
The keen interest from students to learn about heritage techniques has prompted Stockport College Construction Department to consider offering a permanent course focusing on heritage skills including lime plastering, thatching and ornamental stonework.
“We have realised there’s a real demand for heritage construction courses, especially in Greater Manchester.”
John Ellis, Head of Construction at Stockport College
After connecting through the Rediscovering the Underbanks project, Stockport College and H.H. Smith & Sons are now working together on the restoration of Romiley Baths to give students further exposure to heritage techniques used in construction.
As part of the restoration of Winter’s, we are working with H.H. Smith and Sons to offer two placements to construction students at Stockport College.
The first student, Waeil, began his two week placement at the start of June. Waeil is a civil engineering student at Stockport College whom had previously worked on large-scale construction projects in Egypt. Waeil is now looking for job opportunities in the UK and hopes that working on the restoration of Winter’s will increase his career prospects.
“This work placement was very informative and helpful. The team were friendly and hard workers which make me enjoyed every single minute of it … The information I gained from this project has helped me learn about heritage construction. I also think adding this two week placement to my CV will improve my work opportunities in the UK construction industry.“
Waeil, Civil Engineering Student at Stockport College
MSc Building Conservation and Adaptation Students
In June 2021, eight students from the University of Central Lancashire visited the Underbanks. The students are studying towards degrees in MSc Building Conservation and Adaptation, a course that focuses on the repair of historic buildings and sites to conserve their significance and sustain active use.
The day began at St. Mary’s where the students were shown around the church and its Heritage Centre by members of Stockport Heritage Trust. Following that, the students were taken to the Stockport Dungeon where they learnt about the building’s history as the town’s Court Leet.
The students were then given a tour of the Underbanks by the Townscape Heritage team. Starting at Robinson’s Brewery, the tour headed down Lower Hillgate and Little Underbank. During the tour, the students were told about the heritage of the area and the ongoing regeneration taking place in partnership with the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Stops were made at all the capital projects to explain the proposed scope of works to each building. The students were also shown the first completed project, 13 Little Underbank, where the building’s historic stone columns have now been reinstated through the Rediscovering the Underbanks project.
In the afternoon the students visited the One Stockport Hub and had the opportunity to look through historic maps and directories from the Local Heritage Library.
“I look forward to visiting in a year or so and seeing the difference! The area already looks great and the project itself sounds fascinating.“
Jen Williams, UCLAN MSc Building Conservation and Adaption Student
“I had a great day visiting St. Mary’s Church, Stockport Dungeon, and the touring of the Underbanks regeneration work with my UCLAN class. Thanks to the Heritage Trust and the Townscape Heritage Team for showing us around.”
Jenny Dean, UCLAN MSc Building Conservation and Adaption Student