Blacksmith Joe Coombes-Jackman, 22, is among the latest recruits to a unique educational scheme designed to nurture and develop the hands-on skills needed to care for old buildings. SPAB has organised the prestigious Fellowship to foster a new generation of outstanding craftspeople with the knowledge and expertise to pass on essential skills for working with historic materials.
Interest in craft building skills is steadily increasing as people turn to more sustainable and traditional methods of construction. Yet, ironically, these same skills are under threat as fewer young people are encouraged to pursue careers in these areas. Nationally, heritage bodies are concerned that there are simply not enough people training to continue Britain’s distinctive buildings crafts and each year SPAB’s Fellowship becomes more relevant.
Three or four Fellowships are awarded each year depending on available funding. There are no course fees as training and administration costs are borne by SPAB as part of the award.
Introduced to blacksmithing by a family friend, Joe took to it straight away. Choosing to spend as much time as possible at the forge during his course at Hereford College of Arts, Artist Blacksmith, he describes himself as obsessed. He has worked with Brian Hall since completing his blacksmithing studies in July 2014.
Taken on to work on a 19th century wrought iron railings project, Joe practised on off-cuts, trying to match the quality of the original work. He has since helped on the repair of six cannons and their carriages dating from the battle of Waterloo.
Taking his inspiration from Tijou, the Davies Bros. & Samuel Yellin, he has an appreciation for well forged traditional joinery. He hopes to gain a better understanding of associated crafts during the Fellowship whilst also promoting his own.