West Suffolk College BTEC Level 3 Course

Construction and Conservation in the Built Environment (CCBE Course)


Since 2012 BTT has been working with West Suffolk College (WSC) on historic building conservation training for construction students at the college. For some years the Trust provided a free lecture course covering the main historic building conservation trades and awarded annual scholarships for selected students at BTEC 2 & 3 levels. In 2018 it was decided to change over from lectures to practical training for construction students as this was found to be of more use and interest to them.

The course, which is currently (2020) being taken by the BTEC Level 3 construction students at the College includes the following conservation elements:

  • An introduction to the historical development of buildings in East Anglia, with special reference to Bury St Edmunds. Tour provided by West Suffolk Council.
  • Oak framing – training day in Reydon Woods.
  • Wattle and daub and lime plastering – training day at Orchard Barn.
  • Stone and flint.
  • Brickwork – visit to Bulmer Brick & Tile Co and training in bricklaying with lime mortar.
  • Conserving sliding sash and other window types – training provided by Ventrolla.
  • Archaeology – site overview and lecture provided by Britannia Archaeology.

In place of the BTT Scholarship the Trust will be making an annual Achievement in Building Conservation Award to the student on the CCBE course judged jointly by BTT and WSC to be outstanding.

BTT wishes to thank all its sponsors, including those named above and Bedfords Estate Agents, that are supporting the course either financially or by voluntarily providing training. We would be unable to run the course without their help.

Why is the course of such significance? This is the first course of its type in England. No other BTEC Level 2 or 3 course provides mandatory conservation training as part of its standard trade teaching – normally students have to opt for the specialization. In Bury St Edmunds, for example, it is estimated that some 40% of all building work involves historic (pre1919) buildings. At a time when so many tradespeople with these skills have retired it is essential to ensure continuity if these important buildings are to continue to be properly maintained.