Incredible glass restoration project at Grade I listed Manchester Town Hall
GQA centre Absolute Training Solutions Ltd has contributed to the successful restoration of historic stained glass panels at Grade I listed Manchester Town Hall by supporting employees of Recclesia Stained Glass through NVQ attainment. Grade 1 listed buildings, which are incredibly rare in the UK are those deemed to be of exceptional national, architectural or historical significance.
The achievement of the NVQs was funded by the Education and Skills Funding Agency, working in partnership with the European Social Fund.
Recclesia Stained Glass specialises in the conservation and repair of historic and listed buildings, churches, ancient sites and ruins. They offer expertise in the conservation and repair of historic stained and leaded glass, alongside the design and creation of new stained glass and leaded lights, and the conservation and creation of associated metalwork, protection and environmentally sympathetic glazing.
The company works on projects ranging from parish churches to cathedrals, castles to stately homes, and village halls to city halls. They work with organisations including English Heritage, the National Trust and a whole host of heritage guardians.
The team consists of conservators, artists, glass designers, glaziers, site managers and joiners. All employees at Recclesia have long-standing experience of glass conservation and creation and hold traditional skills and academic qualifications which underpins their approach and philosophy to glass design and installation.
Manchester Town Hall
This project involved the removal, restoration and installation of the glass in the Great Hall at the Town Hall building which is undergoing a major four-year refurbishment programme. The employees of Recclesia required a recognised NVQ qualification to fulfil the contractual obligations of the contract and approached Absolute Training Solutions Ltd to deliver the ESF funded level 2 qualification for five members of staff. Qualifications were undertaken by members of staff from the glass processing side of the business who were involved on the restoration element of the contract, and one member of staff who was responsible for the removal and installation of the specialist glass and its transportation to their studio in Swinton.
Innovating assessment methods through the pandemic
Due to the ongoing pandemic and the third national lockdown in January 2021, an alternative assessment model was agreed with Recclesia by Absolute Training Solutions to ensure that their staff development and training needs were not affected by the restrictions.
Constant changes in the national Covid-19 response guidance meant virtual communications played a huge role in the learners’ development including progression reviews and teaching and learning activities.
Outcome and impact
Katherine Walton, Senior Stained Glass Conservator for Recclesia said “We are one of the few conservation companies in the UK that continues to maintain a full in-house staff of conservators and traditionally skilled craftsmen and women. This is one of the main reasons we are chosen to work on some of the UK’s most iconic buildings.”
“The service provided by Absolute Training Solutions Ltd and the European Social Fund enabled us to deliver the highest standards and ensured that all staff were fully qualified to meet the needs of the project.”
“The tutor from Absolute Training Solutions Ltd provided underpinning knowledge in a professional manner while providing essential advice and guidance on key areas such as CSCS and health and safety. Previous work including photo evidence was taken into account during the assessment and the tutor made staff feel at ease during the whole assessment and training process”.
“Our staff have benefited immensely from using resources both online and in hard copy form when needed, including our glazier who took great confidence from the onsite assessments, developing his skills and knowledge. These qualifications will give the company the opportunity to access more projects in the future as more of our staff are now multi skilled with a recognised qualification. The company has benefited greatly from our staff gaining new skill levels.
What the learners said
Katherine Ladyman, Glass Processing Level 2 achiever continued “I was motivated to apply for the course because I really enjoy learning new things and being creative. The NVQ in Glass Processing has helped me expand my knowledge and gain new skills. It was really great to meet Roy from Absolute and talk him through the stained-glass procedure. Roy was very interested in the subject and was so supportive during the whole process. I am happy that I have now progressed to a higher level which will further enhance my knowledge and understanding of the glass processing sector.”
Tomos Ball, Glazing Level 2 achiever said “my motivation to apply for this course was to gain more knowledge of my job and the industry. I enjoyed the observations and the support provided by my tutor Roy. I was able to perform my usual installation duties while learning new topics on health and safety and building regulations. I was very happy with the outcome and the achievement of the glazing qualification. The experience will be valuable and will benefit me in the future.”
What Absolute Training Solutions said
Speaking for Absolute Training Solutions, Roy Pusey the scheme tutor commented “I was very impressed with the quality of the work produced by all the employees at Recclesia. The work currently being carried out on the Manchester Town Hall contract is of an extremely high standard and all staff have shown that they have the skills and the knowledge to meet their contractual obligations.”
“I want to give a special mention to Katherine as she was an exceptional candidate and always provided quality evidence during her assessment and training activities. I am happy all five members of staff were able to progress to a higher level following their achievement.”
I am also delighted to say that Recclesia have now employed two new female members of staff who are now working to the same ESF SSW qualification in Glass Processing.”
What GQA Qualifications said
Speaking for GQA the awarding body who write the qualifications taken by the team at Recclesia, CEO Mick Clayton said, “It is great to hear that what you might call traditional skills are still alive and well and that there are people who want to learn them and carry on the traditions.”
“It is always great news when those people understand the value of qualifications as a way of further developing their knowledge, their skills and their careers, and I am delighted for all the team at Recclesia.”
“The project they are currently working on is a real landmark and something they will always be able to look back on with pride. Congratulations to them all.”