Mustn’t Crumble

A unique course that has trained thousands of construction professionals in the vital arts of repairing and renovating old buildings will return this autumn.

This October will see the return of a unique course designed by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) to equip building professionals with the essential skills for repairing and renovating old structures.

With the downturn in new construction, many architects and developers are increasingly turning to existing buildings for their projects.

The SPAB course, first run in 1951, has provided training for thousands of professionals from organisations like English Heritage and the National Trust, as well as numerous local authority planners, architects, surveyors and others across the private sector.

Described by Dame Liz Forgan, former chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund, as the best course she’d been on, it provides a mixture of expert lectures on subjects such as conservation philosophy, stonework, lime, historic structures and timber repairs.

Delegates also take part in site visits to historic buildings under repair.

Uncertainty in the building sector is leading professionals, including those who care for public buildings, to seek to increase their knowledge base and extend their offering.

This in-depth exploration of practice and issues focussed on old buildings is invaluable.

The autumn 2012 course takes place from Monday, October 1 to Friday, October 5. Bookings are being taken now.

The aim is to illustrate though lectures and practical examples the manner in which the conservative repair of old buildings can be achieved. Group visits to buildings under repair are a central element of the week.

As well as afternoon site visits in the London area, there will be a two-day tour (normally Wednesday and Thursday) to conservation work taking place at a site in a different region of the country.

The course provides the ideal environment for conservation professionals to deepen their understanding of working with older buildings and offers an opportunity for architects, surveyors, planners, structural engineers, builders and craftsmen who are interested in developing work in this area to find out more.

Over the five days, delegates will be introduced to methods evolved and proved by SPAB for over 130 years. Lecturers are all established, practising architects and experts from other related fields.

Subjects covered are likely to include:

  • Principles of repair and conservation
  • Damp
  • Lime – the material and its use in repair
  • Traditional masonry
  • Surfaces and finishes
  • Structural repair – an engineer’s view
  • Conservation of historic ironwork
  • Plasters and renders – repair and conservation
  • Case studies
  • Site visits
  • Services in historic buildings
  • Timber frame construction and repair
  • Roofs • Costing historic building work
  • Conservation and repair of stone and brickwork
  • Timber – its nature, decay, mechanism and remedial treatment
  • Lectures are held at the SPAB’s offices at 37 Spital Square, London E1 near Liverpool Street Station.

The fee of £710 for the Repair Course includes lectures and relevant papers, morning coffee, afternoon tea and coach travel to sites. It also covers the two-day tour, including overnight accommodation, transport, insurance and meals when travelling (accommodation in London is not provided).

In addition, the fee includes individual one-year membership of the SPAB for all delegates.

Course members will need to be able to climb scaffolding in some sites. Delegates who may require special access requirements are advised to contact the SPAB education team before booking.

Find out more and hear what former delegates have to say about their experience of the course in this audio visual presentation:

For more information about the SPAB Repair Course or to make a booking please contact SPAB courses organiser Skye Dillon: 0207 456 0915 or email: [email protected] Alternatively, book online at

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