Setting the Standard: Heritage Skills At The LSTA

THE LEAD SHEET Training Academy has a reputation for offering unrivalled training in lead and hard metals. As the UK’s leading provider of training in this area, many of the country’s most highly-skilled leadworkers have passed through its doors over the years.

Lead and hard metals SAP

The LSTA is Great Britain’s sole provider of CITB Specialist Applied-skills Programmes (SAPs) in both lead and hard metals. As such, grant funding is available for up to 20 students a year on these programmes, covering most of their course fees. SAPs are a great way for lead and hard metal workers to build their skills by following an accredited course. These courses, which take place over eighteen months, can be organised flexibly around the demands of students’ day-to-day work.

The LSTA also provides a range of other courses as part of the City & Guilds Accredited Programmes at their purpose-built training centre. The training centre includes full-scale training rigs and resources as well as providing an environment in which real-life situations can be recreated.

The LSTA’s courses are at basic, intermediate and advanced levels and the training on offer provides industry-recognised qualifications. Students tend to work their way up through these levels, with many ultimately completing the Heritage Skills course.

Heritage skills

The training in Heritage Skills is more specialised, but it remains one of the LSTA’s most popular courses, giving students the chance to learn from its team of very experienced and highly-skilled trainers.

Well-trained and qualified leadworkers are always in high demand in the heritage sector so those who complete the course are setting themselves up for a well-paid and secure future in the industry.

The course lasts for 15 days and students are free to arrange their training schedule to suit them, although the majority tend to do a week’s intensive training and then come back for a day or two at a time in order to complete the course.

The LSTA’s Heritage Skills course is City & Guilds accredited, with students achieving a Level 3 NVQ Diploma on completion. Of course, this accreditation also gives students peace of mind that the training they are receiving is of the very highest quality.

Leadwork techniques

So what can students expect to learn? The course covers everything you might need to carry out advanced leadwork techniques on churches, period properties, stately homes and castles.

Following an overview of working on conservation and restoration projects, the teaching focuses on decorative lead sheet work and casting. Specifically, students learn how to craft barrel top dormers, steeples and rainwater heads. They are also taught specialised casting techniques and herringbone lead roll work.

Stewart Rowles is a former LSTA student who now runs his own specialist architectural restoration and heritage construction company; he is also a trainer at the LSTA.

As someone working solely on period properties, he stresses that it is extremely important to have a good understanding of how lead performs and of the rules around how to install it when working on old buildings.

Lead bossing

Standard techniques often aren’t possible: “One of the main things about doing heritage work is that quite often you’re not allowed to weld because of the risk of fire to these historic buildings. So something you learn at the LSTA, which is absolutely essential, is how to boss correctly. Bossing is basically moving lead around without having to cut and weld a new piece in. Also, it’s important to remember that they didn’t have welding equipment years ago, so if you’re matching like for like – which is frequently asked for on a heritage job – the client will often say to you that they don’t want to see welded corners.”

Lead sheet guidance

The course also teaches students important rules around the correct size of lead sheet to use for heritage projects, taking into consideration how lead expands and contracts over time – too big a piece and the lead will crack. According to Stewart, “These aren’t things that you will figure out on your own, so that’s why the LSTA is so important – it teaches you all these techniques.”

Graduates have gone on to work on period properties, churches, National Trust properties and even world-famous historic buildings such as Westminster Abbey and Windsor Castle.

Head Trainer at the LSTA, Simon Wood, says that helping talented tradespeople expand their skillset is the best part of his job: “It’s very rewarding to see students’ skills improve and develop over their time spent at the LSTA. We take a lot of pride in the quality of our work here and it’s great to be able to pass on our knowledge to others, and also to help set a high standard across the industry.

“The Heritage Skills course, in particular, includes some very advanced techniques so it’s brilliant to see our students master them, and then go on to apply them successfully on such a wide range of important heritage projects.”

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