Stonemasonry apprentice Matthew Tinsley works on an ornamental piece.
Stonemasonry apprentice Matthew Tinsley works on an ornamental piece. © Historic England.
Stonemasonry apprentice Matthew Tinsley works on an ornamental piece. © Historic England.

Meet Former Stonemasonry Apprentice, Matthew Tinsley

Name: Matthew Tinsley (He/Him) 

Apprenticeship: Former Stonemasonry Apprentice, with a specialisation in the heritage sector (Level 2 NVQ)

Team: Heritage Building Skills Programme run by Historic England

Location: I was based with my host firm, Stone Central North West, and any heritage site in the North West that needed repairs or restoration. 


What attracted you to an apprenticeship at Historic England?

The Historic England apprenticeship appealed to me because Historic England is the primary contact for many agencies for advice regarding Historic buildings and monuments. With Historic England’s reputation, I was drawn to being equipped with the knowledge and skills from real professionals within their respective trades.

What kind of things did you do in your apprenticeship?

In my apprenticeship, I primarily worked on-site, fixing stones and maintaining the building using heritage techniques and materials. 

Tell us about your favourite project that you have worked on so far?

My favourite project so far has been Fleetwood Market. This project started towards the later stage of my apprenticeship when I had more knowledge and was given the opportunity to give my opinions and input into the conservation of the building.

I also enjoyed working on ‘The Hop Inn,’ a pub in Blackpool being renovated into a dental practice. For this project, I was able to make a lot of stone details and mouldings from reclaimed stone from that same building.

What did an average day in the life in your apprenticeship look like?

An average day would be checking into the site office and meeting with colleagues to discuss the plans for the day. We would then split the workload between ourselves or work in pairs, depending on what needed doing. There is always plenty of stonework to be done and so we would make these stones or fix them into the building.

What was the application process like, and do you have any tips for aspiring apprentices?

The application process was very straightforward. The group interview was something that is new to me - the key is to go in with confidence and display skills and experience that employers are looking for. Don’t be afraid to print off pictures or portfolios of previous work to show interviewers.

The most surprising aspect of the apprenticeship to me is how much knowledge is available. From books, colleagues, tutors, and professionals. There really is a lot to learn.
Matthew Tinsley, Former Stonemasonry Apprentice Historic England

How has this apprenticeship so far influenced your career goals and aspirations for your future?

The apprenticeship has influenced my career goals by giving me a structured view of where I want to take my career. It has made me want to learn more about historic repairs and materials, and also learn about the historic styles and architectural trends.

What has been the highlight of your apprenticeship so far?

Without a doubt it has been the Summer School. Brilliant weather, brilliant people, plenty of activities to do and try, chats with real professionals, taking in knowledge about everything to do with historic buildings. I’d love to do it all again.