Prescot THI Blog

Summer time in Prescot – traditional skills, tiles and unearthing pottery

Traditional craft in May

The month of May was all about traditional craft skills and engaging with audiences of all ages and backgrounds using a range of creative mediums.

I had the good fortune of taking built environment colleagues to the Natural Building Centre in Llanwrst to take part in their Threshing Barn Project, which involved a practical workshop on Lime Mortar and then lending a hand on the repairs to their beautiful 170 year old stone threshing barn, one of the curtilage agricultural buildings of Grade II* listed Plas Tirion. The level of skills from those delivering the workshops was extremely high and I hope to commandeer them for workshops in Prescot from October onwards!

Bravo to Knowsley Community College!

Knowsley Community College (KCC) Performance Art students were able to realise their determined hard work by performing their play on The Decline of Traditional Crafts in front of years, 7, 8 and 9 at The Prescot School and years 4, 5 and 6 at St Mary’s and St Paul’s C of E Primary School.

KCC students not only fully grasped the importance of encouraging and safeguarding traditional craft skills for future generations for cultural and economic significance, they were also able to reinterpret this real need into something that could be communicated in a witty, intelligent, informed and meaningful way to a young audience! My only regret is that I did not take any photos to show you and the video I took is too large to be placed on here.

Repair and Maintenance of Old Buildings: Training and Advice for Building Owners

Following on from the very successful accredited training of the Pre 1919 Building Maintenance and Repair course to professionals in November last year, we run a one day non-accredited version for local home and shop owners, particularly shop owners that had taken advantage of the THI grant aid, on how to repair and maintain traditional buildings. We had seventeen people attend and, once more, local provider Vintage Thyme delivered a culinary delight for our lunch in PLC Activities, with the feedback from attendee’s being sublime with regards their taste bud satisfaction. As for the more serious aims, our instructor: Terrence Lee, highlighted the differences between traditional and non-traditional buildings with regards to the materials and techniques used so as not to hinder breathability in tackling problems such as damp, rot and insulation. A local walking tour was given, highlighting and providing solutions for problem areas of buildings and a couple of ‘have a go’ demonstrations were given on lime mortars. Those who attended found the day exceptionally informative and most went away with a list of ‘to do’s’ and ‘undo’s!’

Textiles at Prescot Heritage Hub

Lastly, the Heritage Hub’s very own Rosemary Tyler delivered a loomtastic Weaving day to eight very creative and talented ladies. Rose briefed the group on the historical significance of textiles in Prescot and then proceeded to demonstrate traditional hand looms, peg weaving and carding, with the results of their labour below:

June’s Elizabethan Fayre

The THI teamed up with the Knowsley Culture Development and Events team to contribute to their annual Elizabethan Fayre in Prescot. This collaboration proved to be extremely successful, not only in attracting many more activities to the event but footfall in turn. The THI contributed with the Tudor Village; hosting a blacksmith stand, archery and an apothecary, Lucy the Tudor for candle making, impromptu enactments from MATE Productions and the Tudor Courtiers with their expertise on medicinal herbs and calligraphy. In addition to the THI’s contribution, there was the opportunity to throw a pot with John Ayling, handle or pet animals from the Elizabethan era, watch/join the Mucky Mountain Morris Dancers, enjoy the grandeur of elizabethan characters, circus skills and an immense hog roast, to name a few.

The Timber-Framed House Built at a School

Students at St Mary’s and St Paul’s C of E Primary School had the pleasure of participating in the Timber Framed House activity with the Natural Building Centre, delivered by Ned. Ned felt particularly famous (and a little embarrassed if honest) as the students had previously watched the play from KCC the month prior, in which Ned’s life had inspired much of the plot.
Throughout the day, students from years 4, 5 and 6 learnt the significance of Timber in the natural world as well as in the built environment. They also learnt and contributed their thoughts with regards the importance of conservation and preservation of the natural and built environment and were given the wonderful opportunity of constructing a small scale timber framed house, using traditional mortice and tenon joints, marked with roman numerals.

The students were thoroughly engaged in all activities and they behaved impeccably throughout, asking enthusiastic questions, handling tools safely and with respect and sharing with their team mates. The day proved to be extremely educational, inspirational and a real pleasure to participate in.

Changes to the Heritage Hub Opening Hours

In June I also started my new role as a Therapist in Wrexham and have had to reduce role as skills co-ordinator reduced to part-time. My new working pattern, is a Monday – Huyton, Tuesday – Heritage Hub and Wednesday – Huyton. Regrettably, this means the opening times of the Heritage Hub will be reduced to a Tuesday and Wednesday (my colleague Owen Barton will be there) but if you have any questions or enquiries, please feel free to e-mail me: Lyndsey-Jane.Kevan@knowsley.gov.uk or my colleague Owen: Owen.Barton@knowsley.gov.uk

July for the art of creation

A ceramics day was held in the Heritage Hub at the beginning of July, with great enthusiasm from those that attended and a wonderful success in their produce. Decorative plates and tiles were made using block stencils, material, cutters and personal affects with the end results being as unique as those who attended. Another day will be booked for October/November, with confirmation being sought once our artist is back from leave…watch this space or e-mail me for details: Lyndsey-Jane.kevan@knowsley.gov.uk

August from Feel Good to Prescot’s Own Time Team

The THI’s Chix with Stix knitting and crochet group attended the Knowsley Feel Good Festival on the 5th of August in Court Hey park, displaying an array of their work for Arrowe Park’s Resus department and personal achievements and projects of their own. The THI also sponsored local potter John Ayling for the Knowsley Flower Show on the 6th of August, where he assisted dozens in the art of throwing a pot/bowl and both days were extremely successful. Please note, John will be running a Pottery workshop from the Heritage Hub in January, with the exact date being confirmed in October.

As part of the reimagining of Market Place, the public realm area was unearthed by our very own time team!

Robert Philpott from the University of Liverpool managed a team of supervisors, pictured here:

They, in turn, managed members of the public to dig, clean and analyse findings from Market Place over the course of eight days.

Here is a brief summary of their findings:

Trench VII nearest the churchyard, revealed a surviving shelf of bedrock, which had been dug away on three sides. We are not entirely sure yet what the full sequence of events was here as the deep deposit of sandstone rubble was too deep to excavate in the time available. Perhaps the rubble infilled a cellar from one of the shops, but we could not be sure.
One area of the trench had two successive drains. The earliest, neatly constructed as a culvert win brick wand originally with an arched top, had been taken out of use, the top sliced off and the interior filled up. The reason became clear right on the last hour of the dig when the flat sandstone capstones of another drain, this time rock cut, were lifted revealing the alignment of the drain beneath. The first drain ran directly towards the market hall, and it is clear that when the market hall was built in 1859, the drain was in the way. So it was diverted by the new sandstone cut drain, which ran down the road north of the market hall. Another service pipe, iron water pipe, ran parallel and the two may have belonged to broadly the same era.

The northern end of this trench had a low and crudely built wall in brick, but we’re not sure what its function was, although it must have lain close to the shops around the churchyard. The finds were interesting from here, No fewer than nine marbles, all in clay, were found showing the Market place was a space used for games and leisure activities, not just buying and selling goods. The pottery was very fragmented – reduced to tiny shreds by trampling and disturbance of the sandstone deposits in the trench.

Trench VIII revealed the brick foundations of the Market Hall, a foundation four courses wide, and solidly constructed to support the substantial building above. A short section of internal partition wall was discovered at the end of the dig. Also two postholes inside the Market Hall may have been connected with the construction, or possibly with the market stalls, which stood in this general area before 1859.

There were numerous finds of brown slat-glazed stoneware, as well as industrial slipwares of the 19th century. A large pottery assemblage included industrial slipwares of the 19th century as well as earthenwares such as black-glazed and mottled ware, which were made in the town.

We are very grateful to all the volunteers who took part, they were so enthusiastic and they learnt so quickly – their interest in the town and fascination with the process of excavation made it a highly rewarding experience for everyone!

I feel it would be remiss of me not to mention the very talented photographer Steve Samosa here. Steve took part in the dig and whilst there used his artistry to capture the following images:

Of which, the last image was featured on the National Geographic website and was selected for the magazine’s GLOBAL ‘Daily Dozen’ best readers’ photos, what a talent!

Until Next Time

From a barn in the Welsh mountains to the web pages of a globally famous publication – we’ve covered a lot of ground tis Summer. We hope everyone who took part had a good time. We will keep you posted about our future events.

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Get involved

Help shape the heritage initiative by taking part in consultations, or celebrate Prescot's history at events taking place throughout the project. Schools and colleges can also get hands-on with the past through activities and workshops for groups.

Heritage skills training

Historic buildings need people with the right knowledge to look after them. The THI will give people in and entering the local construction industry the opportunity to gain new skills and experience.

The THI will also help people find out more about careers in heritage.

Get in touch

Keep up-to-date by following us on twitter or find out more at 'Space to Create', the THI information centre on Eccleston Street.

You can also contact Owen Barton, THI Officer, by phone on 0151 443 2757 or by emailing owen.barton@knowsley.gov.uk.


Apply for grants

Owners of certain buildings in the Prescot Conservation Area can apply for grants to repair, restore and re-use their property.

Eligible properties are marked in red and orange.

Read the guide to applying for grants (PDF) and eligibility criteria (PDF) documents for detailed information about grants.

Conservation area appraisals

The conservation area appraisal (PDF) is a detailed assessment of Prescot's most historic areas.

The appraisal appendices (PDF) contain more detailed information and the management plan (PDF) outlines how the area will be managed.

Heritage Lottery Funded

© Knowsley Council 2013