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At-risk historic Commonwealth buildings protected by new conservation project

The British Residency in Hyderabad, India (Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Heritage Skills Training Programme/PA)
The British Residency in Hyderabad, India (Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Heritage Skills Training Programme/PA)

The largest ever Commonwealth heritage conservation project is to be launched to protect the world’s at-risk historic buildings and monuments.

The Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Heritage Skills Training Programme, named in honour of the monarch’s milestone reign, will help secure the future of up to 20 significant but threatened buildings and places across the Commonwealth.

With £4.5 million in funding from the Hamish Ogston Foundation, the five-year initiative will teach up to 600 people specialist skills and fund conservation works.

Trainees are already undertaking the restoration of three historic gateways at the Osmania University College for Women in Hyderabad, India.

The initial focus will be on the Caribbean and the Indian subcontinent with projects at Tharp House in Falmouth, Jamaica; Government House in Antigua; Culloden Farm in Barbados; and Roxburgh House and Herbarium, Botanic Gardens, in Kolkata in India.

Later phases of the programme will be extended to cover Commonwealth countries in Africa, Australasia, the Far East and the Pacific.

Philip Davies, chairman of the Commonwealth Heritage Forum which is launching the programme with the Hamish Ogston Foundation on Thursday, said: “Supporting heritage training and building local capacity in some of the world’s most disadvantaged communities, our Commonwealth Heritage Skills programme will make a real difference.

“By creating the heritage champions of the future, we will help local people save the buildings and places they value, generating unprecedented opportunities to enhance heritage skills, create jobs and build a more sustainable future.”

Commonwealth buildings conservation project
Restoration at Durbar Hall, Hyderabad in India (Harvey Presence/Platinum Jubilee Heritage Training Programme/PA)

Trainees will be taught mastery in stonemasonry, joinery and thatching among other skills.

One of the first initiatives will be bursaries at The Prince’s Foundation Summer School which will enable students from across the Commonwealth to develop knowledge and understanding of traditional architecture, design and building techniques.

The Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Commonwealth Heritage Skills Training Programme will be delivered by both UK and international partners, including The Prince’s Foundation, the World Monuments Fund India and an international network of educational institutions.

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