Two buildings conservation experts from Great Yarmouth are heading to Bulgaria next week to help conserve a threatened historic watermill – as part of an ongoing conservation skills exchange.
The visit by Darren Barker and Ian Hardy, of the Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust, is part of the trust’s partnership work to share knowledge about traditional buildings skills and conservation on a pan-European level.
The specialists will spend seven days in the Eastern European country, teaching and advising conservation trainees, including students from Sofia Architectural University, on how to record and survey the historic structure, which was last used during the Soviet era.
This initial work will kick-start the two-year project, which aims to eventually bring the mill back into use as a conservation training hub. It is led by the Devetaki Plateau Association, a non-governmental organisation, which aims to preserve and promote the cultural heritage in this part of northern Bulgaria.
Darren and Ian also work in Great Yarmouth Borough Council’s conservation section, but the project is funded by the Headley Trust, one of the Sainsbury family’s charitable trusts.
The pair will be accompanied by three post-graduate conservation students from Lincoln University, with which the trust also has a formal partnership.
In September, the preservation trust will send five of its own trainees to Bulgaria to help out with the watermill project, followed in 2015 by two more sets of five trainees.
– Darren Barker
“The preservation trust is delighted to be involved in such an exciting project to repair and conserve an historic building which is on the tipping-point of rapid deterioration.
“The preservation trust is building links with several European countries, with the aim of developing best practice in delivering traditional skills training and sharing knowledge about traditional crafts and conservation.
“This link with an association in this part of Bulgaria is particularly relevant because the materials and use of materials on historic buildings there is similar to that found in the Great Yarmouth borough and Norfolk more generally.
“And both areas have a rich built heritage but lack the skills among the local workforce to conserve them.”