Introduction to indigenous earth building traditions and techniques EB1

10 – 11 May 2018
 Charlestown Workshops, Fife

This new 2 day course compliments our existing range of courses for the repair, conservation and maintenance of traditional buildings and bridges a knowledge and experience gap required for the effective repair, conservation and maintenance of earth constructed buildings which unknowingly abound our landscape in Scotland. Scotland has a rich but largely forgotten heritage of earth buildings which is slowly gaining recognition through recent projects and publications. There is also a global revival for earth and natural materials in eco-construction.
Becky Little (Rebearth Ltd) and Tom Morton (Arc Architects) have over 25 years’ of experience working with both earth here and abroad and they will share their knowledge across a range of disciplines, including sourcing and testing materials, mixing and making samples, building and repairing structures and applying finishes.
By the end of this workshop course attendees will be able to recognise earth and clay built structures and buildings and will gain an understanding of earth materials science, construction methods and the conservation requirements for their effective repair. Click here to download a PDF copy of the course description.


Course suitability

This course is aimed at those who work with, own or are responsible for traditional buildings and is suitable for building and heritage professionals, self builders, building contractors and homeowners who have an interest in our rich built heritage and those considering a renovation, conversion or new build project using traditional earth based materials and techniques.
Learning outcomes:

Ability to recognise and understand the role of earth materials in vernacular construction;

Understanding of analysis techniques appropriate for earth based materials and how to reproduce them;

Ability to create repair strategies for the repair, maintenance and conservation of earth buildings;

Understanding of mixing, application and curing of earth based materials for both historic and new build work.
Course programme
Day 1

The first day will focus on case studies and scientific understanding with talks and demonstrations

Health and safety

Earth building traditions in Scotland and beyond

Earth, the ultimate green building material – new developments

How do earth buildings work?

Practical demonstrations and experiments illustrating the science behind earth building

Sourcing earth materials, testing and analysis

Recognising and repairing earth fabric


Day 2
Practical taster sessions in:

Earth mortars

Mudwall (cob) and mud brick construction

Daub (on framework panels)

Light earth utilising clay and hemp fibres

Clay plasters

To include all mixing, sample making, application and repair techniques.

To book a place on any of this course, please click here, or call us on 01383 872722.

CE2 Masonry consolidation techniques for the repair of historic buildings and structures

9 March 2018
Charlestown Workshops, Fife

This workshop is the follow on course from CE1 Introduction to lime based mortars and traditional materials for the repair of civil engineering structures and covers two major techniques for consolidating masonry structures, namely grouting (with a liquid mortar) and concealed crack stitching. These are techniques that may be applicable for the repair of masonry arch bridges, culverts, tunnels, lighthouses, viaducts, canals, harbours, retaining walls, piers and other masonry structures which contribute so much to the richness of our heritage.

This one day workshop focusses on remedying voids in traditional masonry buildings and structures in a sympathetic manner using traditional lime and natural cement bound mortars in liquid form to enable grouting. Techniques of crack stitching (for dormant cracks) will also be addressed using a variety of methods and materials to suit the various scenarios that might occur in heritage buildings and structures. This workshop is a mix of theory and practical hands-on work.

Course suitability

This course is suitable for Structural and Civil Engineers and their Technicians including those that look after our roads and railway networks, contractors working on unprotected masonry structures and ruins and custodians of our industrial heritage. This course may also be of interest to Architects and Building Surveyors dealing with ruined structures and buildings.

Learning outcomes

  • Recognising common types of failure in masonry construction;
  • Understanding masonry unit construction in solid walls and the role of mortars;
  • Identifying voids in structures and buildings;
  • Diagnosis of cause of voiding in masonry structures and buildings;
  • Principles of grouting;
  • Planning a grouting scheme to achieve 100% fully filled voids;
  • Designing grout mixes with and without additives;
  • Identifying dormant cracks in masonry structures and buildings;
  • Diagnosis of cause(s) of cracking in masonry;
  • Crack stitching with mortar and stone;
  • Crack stitching with concealed embedded stainless steel reinforcement.

Course outline

  • Health and safety issues
  • Principles of historic masonry construction including the role of mortars
  • Common types of failure in traditional masonry structures and buildings
  • Diagnosing the causes of voiding and cracks in historic masonry
  • Principles of grouting to fill voided structures
  • Designing grout formulation with and without additives
  • Planning a scheme of grouting
  •  The dos and don’ts of grouting
  • Practical exercise in executing a scheme of grouting
  •  Identifying dormant cracks in masonry
  • Practical exercise in stitching cracks with stone and mortar
  • Practical exercise in stitching a crack with concealed stainless steel reinforcement

If you would like to book a place on this course, please clickhere, email or call on 01383 872722.

Albert Dock 175 Interpro: Landscape & Urban Design

22 March 2018

The fourth in the interpro lecture series celebrating the range of built environment professionals that have contributed to the successful regeneration of the Albert Dock. Led by the Landscape Institute and Urban Design Group, this event will focus on landscape and urban design and includes international speakers on comparison projects in Scandinavia.

Free to attend, booking details to be circulated.

Find out more about this event and the 2018 planning events on the NW Branch Blog and on the main branch webpage.


Short Course in Radiocarbon Dating and Bayesian Chronological Analysis

19 – 21 March 2018

This course is aimed at researchers using radiocarbon and other techniques, including Quaternary geologists, palaeobiologists, archaeologists and marine geoscientists. The first two days of the course will cover key aspects of radiocarbon dating including sample selection, laboratory processes and Bayesian analyses of radiocarbon dates. The third day of the course will expand on this to look at the construction of Bayesian chronologies more generally, including those that rely primarily on other dating techniques.  In this third day there will be a focus on using chronologies for environmental records.

Course Director: Professor Christopher Ramsey, Author of OxCal, with members of the NERC Radiocarbon Facility based at both Oxford and East Kilbride.

Find out more here>>

IHBC Yorkshire Branch – tour of Halifax Piece Hall

3 March 2018

Thank you to our IHBC West Yorkshire Rep Stephanie Jenkins for organising this visit. If any members would like to get involved in organising or promoting a visit in your area then please get in touch.

The Piece Hall is one of Britain’s most extraordinary buildings. Built in 1779 to trade ‘pieces’ of cloth, it is now the UK’s sole surviving cloth hall and offers a unique window back into our past.

Its near 250-year history has seen the building tale on many transformations – in Georgian times as a place for trading locally made ‘Kersey’ and other cloth, later as a gathering point for Victorian spectacles and political rallies. It then became a wholesale marker, before being transformed into a visitor attraction and, most recently, undergoing an extensive conservation programme.

During your visit, we will take you on a journey spanning almost quarter of a millennium. You will meet characters from the past and hear fascinating stories about this truly incredible building.”

To find out more about the event and booking, click the Eventbrite link:

Booking password: IHBC2018

PLEASE NOTE: as an advance payment needs to be made by IHBC for this tour, ticket sales close on Thursday 22 February 2018. The Piece Hall does not offer a refund unless the whole tour is cancelled so please ensure that you arrive by the allotted start time so as not to be disappointed.