As part of the Skills theme of our Sector Resilience Interview series, we heard from Callum Bainbridge, an Apprentice Stonemason for the National Trust, all about his training experience at Hardwick Hall.
Read on to find out more.
Callum, tell us a bit about yourself and your role in the heritage sector.

My name is Callum Bainbridge and I am an apprentice stonemason at the National Trust based at Hardwick Hall. I started my apprenticeship in September 2022 and since then I have been lucky enough to work at and visit a number of National Trust properties including Calke Abbey, Fountains Abbey, Clumber park, Tattershall Castle and Kedleston Hall.

What can you share with us about your apprenticeship experience at Hardwick?  What skills have you learnt so far?

As an apprentice stonemason at Hardwick, I have been given a great opportunity to learn a range of different skills relating to conservation and heritage. For example, stonemasons at the National Trust do the traditional method of using a mallet and chisel to mason and carve the stone. I have learnt how to take measurements from a stone in a building before doing a drawing and creating templates. I have also learnt how to point using lime mortars, as well as learning about the properties of lime and how to behaves in different environments and conditions.

Do you feel apprenticeships like yours are helping to create a stronger, more resilient workforce in the heritage sector?

I would say so because they give young people an opportunity to learn skills that will always be needed as these buildings require constant repair and maintenance work.

The apprenticeship route makes learning these skills more accessible to people because they get to earn a wage while learning and they will have people who are willing to mentor them.

What advice would you give someone who might be considering an apprenticeship route into the heritage sector? ?

I would say go for it because in my opinion it is the best way to learn if you want to work in the heritage sector. You should be given plenty of support and the opportunity to learn new skills as well as being paid to do so.

Overall, what do you think is most crucial for ensuring a resilient heritage sector?

Knowledgeable and skilful people. The more people we have with the skills and knowledge to do the work that is needed to protect our heritage, the more resilient the heritage sector will be. I think that apprenticeships are the best way to get more people into this type of work and learning these skills. We should also be looking to continually invest in the people already in the space as well, giving them opportunities to expand their skillset even further.

This Sector Resilience interview was shared by Callum Bainbridge as part of our Heritage Sector Resilience Plan activities. Richard Wilkes, Building Supervisor at Hardwick Hall, also shared his perspectives – read Richard’s interview.

If you’d like to contribute an interview as part of the series, follow the link below to find out more:

Sector Resilience Interviews – Historic Environment Forum