In 1994 the first edition of the Directory of Traditional Building Skills appeared; since then 10,000 copies of the first four editions have been distributed free of charge. The Partnership between the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (formerly Environment and Heritage Service of the Department of the Environment (NI)) and the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society has been mutually beneficial. The Society is grateful to the Agency and the Department for its support of the Buildings at Risk project over this period and to the staff and officers of both organisations whose dedication brought the publications to fruition.
Ulster’s built heritage has deservedly achieved a much higher public profile in the last ten years. The buildings in our communities whether they be imposing or modest, urban or rural, residential or industrial, all make significant contributions to our understanding of who we are and where we have come from. As the Society’s education programmes show, the built heritage is a valuable learning resource. It also can make a considerable economic and environmental contribution through tourism and sustainable development.
The future of our built heritage depends on public appreciation and, most importantly, the commitment of owners to look after, maintain and pass on to the next generation buildings in as good as, if not better condition than that prior to acquisition. The first edition of the Directory of Funds for Historic Buildings in Northern Ireland, designed to assist owners and trusts to source potential funding, was published in 1999 and the second in 2004.
The Directory of Traditional Building Skills attempts to provide help in identifying the craftsmen, architects, suppliers and other skilled workers appropriate for the tasks required. The need for such help is more than demonstrated by the popularity of the previous editions of this book and by the number of enquiries both the Society and the Agency receive on a daily basis. Most owners want to do the right thing by their buildings; it makes social, aesthetic and economic sense to do so. Legislators, funding sources, and society as a whole should give them every encouragement.
The Ulster Architectural Heritage Society is grateful to a number of organisations and individuals for their contributions to this new online Directory. The NI Environment Agency of the Department of the Environment for funding, professional expertise, friendship and a wide range of technical guidance; Matthew Slocombe of SPAB (the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) and Dawson Stelfox (Consarc Conservation) for their introductory texts. We are grateful to the Society's Vice-Chairman, Primrose Wilson, its committee and staff, especially Lorraine Robinson, BHARNI Officer, editor of this publication, and Nicola Woods and Leah O'Neill for their assistance.
We hope that this Directory will both emphasise what a wide range of expertise and skills is locally available and also assist those responsible for the care of Ulster's built heritage to have access to it.