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Local firms asked to bid for heritage projects

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 Monday February 9 2015.  For immediate release


COPELAND Council is inviting local builders to get involved with the work around its Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI).

The Council is keen that local firms should have all the skills necessary to bid for projects awarded under the THI grant scheme. These grants are to restore buildings in the Market Place and James Street area of Whitehaven, and often involve specialist heritage construction techniques.

Coun Hugh Branney, Copeland’s portfolio holder for community regeneration, said: “We are aware that one or two contracts have had to be awarded to non-local firms because of a lack of those specific skills nearby. So we are offering a series of free masterclasses to allow builders to acquire these specialist competencies.

“We’re also offering a free breakfast event – where builders can come along and find out what’s involved in bidding for these contracts, and hopefully express an interest in tendering.  They can also sign up for the masterclasses whilst there.”

The breakfast event is on Wednesday February 18 from 8am until 9am in the Wellington Bistro at The Beacon, West Strand, Whitehaven. You don’t need to book a place, just drop in for an informal chat.  There is free parking at the Beacon during the event, plus bacon sandwiches and hot drinks for those builders attending. Coun Branney added: “We want as many local builders as possible to come along and find out more. We understand tendering can sometimes be a daunting process, and these jobs are quite specialised, but we’ll do all we can to help local firms get the benefit of this work.”

This is coupled with free masterclasses, open to all construction firms who feel they have staff who may benefit from gaining or improving specific heritage techniques. Attendees will get hands-on experience working on the former YMCA on Irish Street, Whitehaven.  This Grade II listed building is currently being sympathetically transformed into a Foyer for young people.  The masterclasses will be led by experienced craftsmen and include:


Roofing and Lead Work

March 4-6 and March 18-20 (this course will run twice) 10am – 4pm, at the Foyer.

Attendees will work with roofing expert Bob Wall, who has vast experience of heritage projects including choosing, cutting and fitting slates, lead welding and issues with listed buildings and bats.

Joinery – Sash Windows

March 9-12, 10am – 4pm, at Thomas Armstrong’s workshop in Flimby.

Attendees will be taught by craftsmen with more than 30 years’ experience in Armstrong’s bespoke joiners shop. They will learn how to assemble a traditional timber sash window and have a go at putty pointing the glass into the frames.

Lime Render

May 11 – 15, 10am – 4pm, at the Foyer.

Tutor Rob Williams has 25 years’ experience in heritage projects, specialising in listed buildings and churches. You will get to apply render, control the suction, protect the render while it cures and learn about the different lime mixtures.

Lime Plastering

June 1-4, 10am – 4pm, at The Foyer.

With tutor Rob Williams.  Attendees will learn the advantages of lime plaster and the different backgrounds to apply it to, and get a chance to apply the plaster on a live project.

Cobble Setts

August 17 - 18, 10am - 4pm at The Foyer.

Paving professionals will learn to lay traditional cobble setts in a courtyard setting.


Jane Taylor, Copeland’s THI officer, said: “We would like to hear from all types of contractors who would like to bid for work in the THI area.  We hope to put a list together of interested firms, to pass to local building owners applying for grants.”

Anyone interested in the masterclasses or bidding for work, who can’t make the breakfast event, or require any further information, should call Jane Taylor on 0845 054 8600.

The Townscape Heritage Initiative is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Britain’s Energy Coast (using funding from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority) and Copeland Borough Council. The money is being used to help restore buildings in the James St and Market Place area of Whitehaven, bring floor space back into use and provide training and skills projects.