Great Yarmouth conservation experts set to share their skills internationally

Darren Barker is among the experts heading to Bulgaria.  Picture: James Bass Darren Barker is among the experts heading to Bulgaria. Picture: James Bass

Wednesday, May 28, 2014
2:58 PM

A pair of conservation specialists from Great Yarmouth are heading to Bulgaria to lend an expert hand to help save a threatened historic watermill.

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The historic watermill in Bulgaria that two Great Yarmouth experts will be helping to restore. Picture: submittedThe historic watermill in Bulgaria that two Great Yarmouth experts will be helping to restore. Picture: submitted

Darren Barker and Ian Hardy, of the Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust, are working to save the building - which was last used during the Soviet era - as part of an ongoing conservation skills exchange.

The visit is part of the trust’s partnership work to share knowledge about traditional buildings skills and conservation on a pan-European level.

The specialist pair are spending a week in the country, teaching and advising conservation trainees, including students from Sofia Architectural University, on how to record and survey the historic structure.

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.

The inside of the historic watermill in Bulgaria that two Great Yarmouth experts will be helping to restore. Picture: submittedThe inside of the historic watermill in Bulgaria that two Great Yarmouth experts will be helping to restore. Picture: submitted

It is being led by the Devetaki Plateau Association, a non-government organisation, which aims to preserve and promote the cultural heritage in this part of northern Bulgaria.

Darren and Ian, who also work in Great Yarmouth Borough Council’s conservation department, will be accompanied by three post-graduate conservation students from Lincoln University, with which the trust also has a partnership.

Their visit will be followed up in September, when five of the trust’s own trainees will journey to Bulgaria to help with the watermill project, followed in 2015 by two more sets of five trainees.

Darren said: “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.”

The trust also has partnerships with the Estonian Academy of Arts, and Hiiumaa Vocational College, both based in Estonia.

Last month, five students from the vocational college visited Great Yarmouth to clean and conserve a 15th century lancet arch doorway at the Minster.

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