This July the National Heritage Ironwork Group (NHIG) held its first awards ceremony for graduates from its inaugural Heritage Blacksmiths training programme. The NHIG award is the first of its kind in the UK and is a competency work based qualification covering specialist skills units in heritage blacksmithing.
NHIG established its specialist training course as part of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Skills for the Future programme with standards derived from Construction Skills National Occupation Standards for Heritage Skills, which NHIG helped develop in 2010. The blacksmiths on this course spent a year working towards the award which was assessed in accordance with accepted national standards.
Adrian Legge, chairman of the training programme said: “For far too long there has been a lack of a suitable qualification against which the specific specialist skills of the conservation blacksmith working on ornamental ironwork can be judged. These skills, which are distinct from those required to work other metals, deserve recognition and the NHIG Award is an important start in helping address this situation.”
The event was hosted by Hampton Court Palace where the Tijou Screen, one of the finest examples of the work of the artist blacksmith, provided the perfect backdrop for the receipt of the award by the 2012 bursary graduates: Adrian Wolfe, Alexander Coode, David Johnston, Joanna Williams, Joanne Adkins, Matthew Boultwood and Simon Doyle.
The prize for ‘Best Blacksmith’ was awarded jointly to Simon Doyle (left) and Matthew Boultwood (right).
The prize for ‘Best Portfolio’ was awarded to Joanne Adkins.
In addition there was one self-funded graduate, Jason Balchin from Ironart of Bath, who pioneered a new approach for employees to achieve this award. He also received a special prize for ‘Heritage Ironwork Conservation Progress’ in recognition of not only his personal improvement but also the development and implementation of a different approach to conservation work within his place of work at Ironart.
We are pleased to be able to confirm that all of last year’s trainees are now in full time employment: Alex Coode & Simon Doyle are working together and trading as the ‘Heritage Blacksmith Partnership’ Jo Williams, David Johnston & Adrian Wolfe are also self-employed. Matthew Boultwood and Jo Adkins are employed by Hall Conservation Ltd.