A young craftsman whose ambition is to work on the wooden interiors of buildings designed by Scotland’s most famous architect and artist, is hoping to revive some of the traditional carpentry skills that have been lost by becoming the first person in Scotland to graduate with the Prince’s Foundation for Built Environment heritage qualification.
John McRitchie, 25, from Crossford near Dunfermline describes himself as a childhood enthusiast of Charles Rennie Macintosh and has visited every Macintosh building in the country. Taking the advice of his careers tutor at Dunfermline High, John spent three years training as an architect technician. Deciding that a desk job was not for him, he then worked for a small local joiner before being offered a carpentry and joiner apprenticeship with a large house builder.
“I knew that modern steel framed buildings and boxes were not going to play a part in my future but I needed to build up my building and construction skills. I therefore put myself through night school in addition to completing my SVQs as part of my apprenticeship.”
Knowing that his future lay in traditional carpentry and restoration, John took voluntary redundancy in December 2008 and applied for a place on the prestigious Prince of Wales Building Apprenticeship programme. The eight month vocational training programme, which has been running since 2006, offers building craftspeople the opportunity to advance their design knowledge and experience using traditional and sustainable building crafts such as stonemasonry, thatching, roofing and tiling.
He has recently set up his own business called McRitchie Traditional Carpentry working as a timber conservation specialist. One of his first commissions was to undertake all the carpentry for the Gordon Park Pavillion in Ellon, in the North East of Scotland, which features an ornate wood carved roof. He has also been involved in adding restorative details to traditional properties and restoring sash windows.
John set up his business thanks to funding and support from the Prince’s Scottish Youth Business Trust which has provided £1.6 million to over six hundred 18 – 25 year olds during the last 12 months, wishing to start up and continue in business.
Commenting he says “PSYBT has been extremely helpful providing advice and necessary start-up funds which are involved in putting together a website for example. Going forward, I am keen to set up my own workshop and take on some woodwork enthusiasts and pass on these traditional skills and sustainable design and build methods for which there is still so much demand, but so few people with the professional skills to meet the demand.”
He added “Of course, if I could have the opportunity to work on the wooden interiors of the Charles Rennie Macintosh buildings that would be a dream come true for me!”
Commenting PSYBT regional manager for Fife, Fiona Turnbull said, “John is an amazingly talented mastercraftsman with incredibly high standards of workmanship and an enormous pride in his work. He is certain to do well in his chosen career and we look forward to helping him as his business continues to grow.”
For further information please contact Jen Nash, Panache Communications on 0141 589 0514 / email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Margaret Gibson of PSYBT on 0141 342 5942. You can also check out the PSYBT website at www.psybt.org.uk.