November 5, 2019
I started my apprenticeship at 16 as a school leaver and my mentor was a 73-year-old stonemason called Dave Stoker. He taught me what it meant to be a stonemason and his lessons have set me in good stead. I try to pass them on to whoever I have mentored.
I am a stonemason supervisor and I co-ordinate activities of workers or teams engaged in all manner of stone work, as well as working alongside the men on site and in the workshop .
The Cathedrals’ Workshop Fellowship (CWF) is a group of nine Anglican cathedrals that have joined together to create a new generation of crafts men and women capable of caring for our cathedrals and heritage buildings in the 21st Century. Having a highly-trained workforce is key for the repair of Durham Cathedral.
Peter and I started on the same day in March 2015. He showed passion from the offset and we have always worked well together.
I support him throughout his programme and will help him with his work-based projects, which include setting out, geometry and the principles of stone construction.
Peter will visit some of England’s great cathedral workshops once a month and spend a few days at each one over the academic year. At the end of each visit, he will come away with a specific module he has to complete. He will do all of his studies
at Durham Cathedral using our resources in the library and will be given access to the archives.
He will spend two years studying on the CWF.
From the first time I picked up a chisel and hit at a bit of stone, it just felt right. During my fine art degree, I experimented with lots of materials and fell in love with stone carving.
I have always had an interest in historic buildings, that, combined with my love of traditional crafts, made working at Durham Cathedral as a stonemason my dream job.
I first heard about the CWF programme when I began my stonemasonry training at Bath College in 2010. It immediately appealed to me. I enjoy being in a learning environment and I’m always eager to challenge myself.
The programme covers a range of subjects that are necessary for cathedral masons, including archaeology, geology, stone carving and technical drawing. Every month or so, our cohort gathers for training.
Gary is a great stonemason and a brilliant teacher.
Through his practice as a stonemason and the further training he underwent to become a SPAB (Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) fellow, has a firm knowledge of all aspects of masonry and stone conservation.
I am enjoying meeting new, interesting people, and travelling to new places with amazing history. I love being back in a learning environment and taking on new challenges.
I’m committed to the development of masonry at Durham Cathedral. I want to give something back to the cathedral, which has so kindly sponsored me to do the fellowship, by passing on the knowledge I am picking up on the course.
I hope I can use these craft skills in a workshop of my own in the future.