London Craft Week (2016)
It was a surprise when my wife pointed out that London Craft week was going to feature a Dry Stone Walling Workshop event alongside the (more usual) fine jewellers, potters, furniture makers, and so on, that made up the rest of the event.
Since events like this don't happen on my doorstep very often, I contacted the instructor and organiser, John Holt (pic right), of the London School of Dry Stone Walling, to see if he would need any help!
It turned out that he did.
Things started the week before when ten bags of stone arrived outside the Cathederal one morning. That's about 10 tons.
Our first job was to barrow the lot across the road and into the Cathederal garden where the wall was going to be built. Stack it either side of the wall line and start to sort out some copes, throughs, etc.. That was some effort and it took three of us most of the day.
John set to over the next couple of days and got most of a first lift done. Including a sheep hole (a lunky) for Mary the lamb - a popular feature.
The next couple of days saw us preparing more of the wall for the participants, building up the middle and the cheek ends to provide a reasonable working height.
We also washed all the stone that they would use. It was very dusty and people would be wearing normal clothes as the sessions were only a couple of hours. We also provided some aprons, gloves and safety glasses.
Here is the student built second lift. Total beginners with two instructors (John and I), 2 hour taster sessions for groups up to about 10.
On the last day we seemed to get the timing just right somehow. As the last of the cope stones went on the Cathederal bell chimed 5pm and that was the end of the last class!
I think most of the participants were really happy with the experience and some were enthused to continue training and build walls in their garden, etc.
Congratulations to John for pulling the whole event together, and for giving me a piece of the action, and to Matthew for his unstiniting work in helping to keep the show on the road. It was a unique and special experience.