For a week in May, Purcell people from all regions and job roles gathered in Manchester for Purcell’s RIBA-recognised Conservation School. The exciting opportunity offered training on the conservation of historic buildings and visits to some Purcell architecture projects.

The Conservation School was held in Manchester Town Hall, a current project which the Purcell Manchester studio is working on. Sessions explored various themes including conservation approaches, historic building materials and contextual design development.

A mixture of theory and practice, the full programme of lectures and seminars ranged from topics as diverse as how to assess a buildings historic significance right through to a practical demonstration of hot lime. Internal Purcell expertise was supplemented with external speakers who provided the content of the 5 day long course.

Day 1 – Conservation, design in historic context, heritage consultancy. Manchester Town Hall

Day 2 – Surveying and recording historic buildings. Manchester Town Hall

Day 3 – Clayton Hall field study, decorative plasterwork and conservation of metalwork. Clayton Hall / Manchester Town Hall

Day 4 – Quarry visit, stone cleaning and repair, conservation of masonry. Huddersfield / Manchester Town Hall

Day 5 – Internal decorative finishes / lime conservation. Manchester Town Hall

I really enjoyed practical side of conservation school, being taught something through a lecture and being shown how to put it into practice. Whether it was surveying, identifying significance or making lime mortar. It’s a way to re-enforce what we were being taught and learn from colleagues.

Jasmine Dinnage, Assistant to Partners in London

It was great to learn in the setting of Manchester Town Hall. It let us apply our new-found knowledge to a live project. Seeking out examples of different types of metalwork across the building really helped explain the different ways of making and fixing from the classroom lectures. It was also great meet people from other offices and hear about projects being worked on across the country.

Chloe Sheward, Architect in North Wales

The grade I listed Manchester Town Hall first opened its doors in 1877 and welcomed this spring’s Conservation School. The Town Hall, now largely vacated and empty in anticipation of the planned refurbishments, provided an ideal backdrop for learning as topics could be brought out of the classroom and directly into the adjacent active project.

The course provided me with the opportunity to take a step back and dedicate time to thinking, discussing and understanding much better many of the processes we undertake during our project work whilst having the chance to learn from some of our most experienced and knowledgeable colleagues.

Robin Flindell, Senior Architect in London