The restoration and maintenance of York Minster will continue far into the future, thanks to the creation of three new stonemasonry apprenticeships, funded by a £170,000 grant from the Masonic Charitable Foundation.
The apprenticeships are being introduced over three years, with each individual learning their craft in the cathedral’s Stoneyard alongside award-winning craftspeople, while studying part-time at York College.
The apprenticeship funding is being given in memory of Iain Ross Bryce, a former Provincial Grand Master of Yorkshire and East Riding Freemasons, who died in June 2015.
The first apprentice to benefit from the grant is 27-year-old Lewis Morrison, who joined the cathedral in August 2016 after completing an NVQ Level 2 stonemasonry qualification at York College.
Lewis moved to York from Aberdeen in 2015 to start a stonemasonry course at York College.
“I have an arts based background with a BA in Fine Art Printmaking and was looking for a career which was practical and creative,” Lewis explained.
“After completing my course, I knew I wanted to work in the heritage sector and obviously jumped at the opportunity to work at one of the world’s great medieval cathedrals. The apprenticeship offers me the opportunity to develop my skills working alongside some of the country’s most talented craftspeople.”
Lewis is currently working on his first carving as part of the cathedral’s South Quire Aisle project, which will involve restoring and conserving glass and stone in the aisle’s 11 bays over the next 11 years.
The apprenticeships in architectural stonemasonry last for four years and include training in stone conservation and repair techniques and fixing masonry on site. The team uses traditional hand tools and the same techniques passed down over centuries by masons working at the cathedral. Individuals also complete a Level 3 NVQ course in banker masonry at York College.
John David, Master Mason, said: “We’re hugely grateful to the Masonic Charitable Foundation for the donation. Investing in future generations of craftspeople is something we’re committed to at the Minster and the funding allows us to provide young people with specialist training while investing in the fabric and future of this ancient building.”
Interviews for the second apprenticeship are due to take place this summer with the third opportunity recruited for in 2018.
Mrs Janet Bryce, the widow of Iain Ross Bryce, said:
As a long-standing Yorkshire Freemason, the heritage of this county was very close to my husband’s heart. He would have been very pleased to see these new apprentices safeguarding the future of York Minster.