Cumbrian Stonemason Seeks New Apprentice

A slate company in Cumbria is looking to the future and wanting to keep traditional crafts alive by taking on its first stonemasonry apprentice in its 44-year history.

The Westmorland Gazette reports that Coniston Stonecraft, based in a workshop in the foothills of Coniston Old Man, is seeking an apprentice to learn the centuries-old skills of carving, engraving, stone-splitting and polishing.

Stonemason Andy Barlow explained that Cumbrian slate is unique, and everything he makes is crafted from Cumbrian stone, quarried in the Lake District. “Our slate is renowned all over the world. So we need high-quality stonemasons to work with it,” he said.

The successful apprentice will be trained by Mr Barlow is all aspects of the trade, learning how to do everything from carving house signs to specialist clocks, and kitchenware.

Coniston Stonecraft has partnered up with Furness College, where the new apprentice will learn basic workshop engineering skills during the two-year apprenticeship

The company was saved back in February when it was bought by Brendan Donnelly out of administration, and the company has experienced a mini sales boom, which has brought the need for an extra pair of hands in the workshop.

Mr Donnelly added: “Half a century ago there were workshops on our site that employed more than a dozen stonemasons. Where have they all gone? It’s a dying trade. But people love Cumbrian slate and our order book is filling up. So we need to train an apprentice stonemason, to future-proof our business.”

The company has already taken on its first office administration apprentice in August this year. If you want more details of the stonemason apprenticeship, then check on the GOV.UK website.

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