College students help to preserve local heritage  

8th June 2018

Students at a North East college are doing their bit to preserve and restore the region’s natural, industrial and cultural heritage.

Bricklaying and catering students from Gateshead College have been working on The Land of Oak & Iron, a conservation and restoration project covering 177 km2 of land surrounding the picturesque Derwent Valley.

The bricklaying students spent three days at nearby Beamish Museum learning the art of dry stone walling, an ancient craft used to build heritage trails and other rural landscape structures. Meanwhile, catering students tried their hand at making cinder toffees, coconut delights and other tasty treats, a traditional pastime and thriving industry in the early 1900s.

Chris Toon, deputy principal of Gateshead College, said: “The Land of Oak & Iron is a terrific project for our students to get involved with; not only has it enabled them to learn about and appreciate local heritage but it has also given them the chance to gain valuable practical skills.”

“At Gateshead College we’re fortunate to have strong links with a host of businesses and organisations which enables us to give our students fantastic experiences like this. These activities complement their lessons, prepare them for work and give them a greater chance of getting a job.”

Gateshead College professional cookery student, Lewis Lazenby said: I’ve had a great time on this exciting project. This fantastic opportunity has allowed me to gain skills that will look good on my CV and impress potential employers in the future.”

The Land of Oak & Iron Landscape Partnership is a four-year programme of events and activities, supported by National Lottery players through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and hosted by environmental regeneration charity Groundwork NE & Cumbria. The project aims to rekindle local passion for the area by encouraging community involvement in activities so that people can share experiences and learn new skills.

Karen Daglish, Land of Oak & Iron Partnership Manager said: “Community engagement is a major focus of this project and allows us to provide educational opportunities for people of all ages. They can showcase their talent, learn new skills and share in a project that is helping to make a positive difference to so many people’s lives.”

To find out more about Gateshead College and the courses on offer, visit www.gateshead.ac.uk/employer.

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