Staff and students outside the Specialist Craft Centre at Clumber Park.

Crafting Heritage: New Joinery Oppurtunities

15 March 2024

North Notts College collaborates with the National Trust’s Specialist Craft Centre at Clumber Park, unlocking exciting new work placement opportunities for carpentry and joinery. Through this collaboration, students can gain valuable knowledge of key heritage skills, opening doors to immersive learning and possible apprenticeship opportunities.

Spanning over 3,800 acres, Clumber Park is a popular tourist destination owned by the National Trust, boasting a beautiful expanse of parkland, heath, and woods. Located less than 5 miles from North Notts College, the park relies on volunteers to sustain its operations, such as facility management and business administration (depending on availability). Students actively engage in placements like these to enhance their practical skills and gain real-world experience. 

At the heart of this scenic landscape lies the Specialist Craft Centre, dedicated to crafting replacement timber pieces using traditional joinery techniques. Servicing all National Trust sites within the East Midlands and beyond, the centre has left a mark on numerous cherished buildings throughout the UK. One recent project was the replacement of a footbridge gate for Anglesey Abbey, a Jacobean-style house with stunning gardens and a working watermill in Cambridgeshire.

Level 1 joinery students, Nicole and Harrison, were the first to embark on this transformative journey. During their placement, they worked alongside building supervisor Sam and fellow student Matt to design, measure, and construct the new footbridge. Under their expert guidance, they explored techniques like lap, domino, haunched mortise, and tenon joints using an array of traditional tools.

Original footbridge gate at Anglesey Abbey
Original footbridge gate at Anglesey Abbey

Matt started as an Architectural Joinery Apprentice at National Trust in 2022 and is now in his final year of training. Over this time, he gained exceptional skills, and his dedication has gained recognition, including appearances on television regarding his involvement with The Sutton Hoo Ship Project.

Reflecting on her experience, Nicole shared: “Working on this project has been a great experience for us. We learned not only the technical aspects of joinery but also the significance of preserving our cultural heritage through craftsmanship.”

Sam, Building Supervisor, said: “Returning to basics and mentoring students like Harrison and Nicole brought back memories of my own apprenticeship. While initially apprehensive about entrusting them with a real project destined for one of our National Trust sites, they exceeded expectations. Their impressive work earned them an invitation to volunteer with our department, gaining valuable experience on their path to a joinery career.”

Richard, Joinery Lecturer, said:This has been an amazing reflection of how every work experience should come together. Since leaving school in September, Harrison and Nicole have embraced their skills gained in the workshop, applying them to a working environment in just six months. They are both a credit to North Notts College and have a bright career ahead of them. I extend my thanks to the National Trust and Sam for pushing this opportunity”

Find out more about courses in carpentry and joinery at North Notts College.

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