The need for skilled and trained craftspeople is becoming more apparent in Mid Wales
A crisis is brewing in Mid Wales that threatens to undermine the preservation of some of the region’s historic buldings, according to a local Conservation Architect.
The shortage of skilled craftspeople specialising in stone masonry, carpentry, and other specialist skills required for building conservation work has reached alarming levels, putting the region's architectural treasures at risk.
And bodies such as the Welsh Government, RIBA, local authorities, and colleges, need to act on it.
This crisis extends beyond Mid Wales, affecting Wales as a whole and Doug Hughes of Newtown-based Hughes Architects, a leading architectural practice with over two decades of experience in architectural design, is concerned about the implications of this shortage.
Doug, Principal Architect and Managing Director of Hughes Architects, has a wealth of expertise in Conservation Architecture, with extensive experience in preserving historical and cultural landmarks, including churches, historic halls, older homes, and Grade I and Grade II listed buildings.
"In recent years, we've witnessed a troubling decline in the number of skilled craftspeople, particularly those adept in the intricacies of stone masonry, carpentry, and other essential skills for building conservation work," he said.
"Our heritage buildings are living legacies, connecting us to our past and shaping our future. However, without a new generation of craftspeople trained in the delicate art of building conservation, we risk losing these treasures."
Bethel Chapel Chapel in Newtown, Powys is an example of the threat. The unfortunate collapse of its roof and subsequent partial demolition serves as a poignant reminder of the challenges faced by historical buildings in the area.
The Grade II listed chapel on New Road, now stands in disrepair, its future uncertain. The lack of skilled craftspeople poses a significant hurdle in the efforts to restore and preserve such structures, leaving many historical buildings at risk of a similar fate.
"Historical buildings are not just bricks and mortar; they are a physical part of our shared heritage," added Doug. "We cannot afford to stand idly by while these architectural treasures crumble away."
Mr Hughes has called on the Welsh Government, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), local colleges, and other stakeholders to take action.
“It is imperative that steps are taken to create more courses and training opportunities to nurture the next generation of skilled craftspeople. This includes programmes tailored to both young and older individuals, ensuring that these invaluable skills are passed down and preserved for future generations,” said Doug.
"We are ready to collaborate with educational institutions, government bodies, and fellow professionals to create a comprehensive strategy for addressing this shortage," added Doug.
"We must act now to ensure that the legacy of our past continues to inspire and enrich our future."