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Heritage conservation and the building crafts: a Yorkshire case study

Norton, Sophie (2018) Heritage conservation and the building crafts: a Yorkshire case study. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

This research began as an approach to understanding a longstanding issue with the capacity of craft skills for heritage conservation in England. It diverged from traditional research based on a projected economic need for such skills by seeking an insider view of the reason for continued decline. By using a series of complementary, mixed archival and qualitative methods to study the craft community in Yorkshire, this thesis demonstrates that, throughout the 20th century, conservation as a discipline influenced craftspeople incidentally and without real direction. This is problematic, not only because of the risk that it poses to craft skills but also because it disregards craftspeople’s distinct heritage values and thereby contradicts heritage conservation as an holistic and multi-faceted value-led discipline. The inductive methodology employed has been particularly revealing. As an innovative approach to researching building craftspeople it has drawn on the participant observation work of Marchand, Thiel and Yarrow, and has shown that it has real value for understanding the processes of building conservation when on site. When compared to the archival findings from an historical case study, it shows that the commercial management of conservation currently predominates on-site practice, to the extent that it obstructs value-based decision-making. I argue that this is a structural issue underpinned by a false perception that conservation can be divided into two stages of concept and labour, practised by professionals and craftspeople, respectively. As a solution, the thesis suggests that conservation should make space for interdisciplinary on-site educational opportunities, where the different stakeholders of conservation can learn the value of each other’s expertise. The more empathetic understanding of craft expertise that this enables should form the basis for future cooperation and a more central role for craftspeople in conservation, which would have real practical meaning for the discipline.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > Conservation Studies
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.792078
Depositing User: Ms Sophie Norton
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2019 12:33
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2020 05:35
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/25438

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