Dry Stone Walls and Hedgerows

When you think about dry stone walls and hedgerows, do you think of a quaint little cottage garden? maybe a barrier in a farmer’s field?

The popularity of these walls has increased over the years. Picket fences are not as popular as they once were.

What is it about these walls that are so attractive to gardeners.

  • what are the benefits of a dry-stone walls/hedges?
  • why are so many in walls in disrepair?
  • where can you learn the skills to build your own?
First, we need to know the background.

When you look around the landscape of Britain you can see a vast difference between the north and south.

The south being more fertile for growing vegetation and livestock, the ground is relatively flat with a mild weather; where as in the north the rugged terrain and harsh climate is more ideal for livestock.

Having livestock, you will need a way to keep them in. In the south, Farmer will grow hedgerows as a means of securing the land. With the mild climate the plants can grow quicker than the animals can eat them.

Now in the north copious quantities of stone are easily found close to the ground surface, its here you will find evidence of dry stone walls. The walls are found where trees and hedges are difficult to grow.

On lower ground where hedges could be grown, they take longer to mature and can be stunted if exposure to animals to early, the saplings and new growth could be eaten quicker than the plant can grow, making this method of security difficult to establish.

Once a stone wall is erected, it will remain until neglected or dismantled. The walls would need little upkeep, if build properly.

The materials were easy to get, this is the reason stone and hedges were used. Yearly maintenance checks would ensure the longevity of the walls and hedges.

Fact – when farmers/labours where building their stone walls, they would put a trinket or coin in-between the gaps as a time capsule.

Fact- Prince Charles hosted a hedgelaying competition on Highgrove estates, this allowed different skills to be exercised. More.

The Change

As the 21st century got underway, changes to farming where steadily increasing but the dry-stone walls and hedges where still the best security for the fields. When the first world war erupted in October 1914 many young men left to fight, but it was when the war continued that cause a strain on the country.

Skilled workmen where unable to pass on their skills to their apprentices resulting in the loss of the majority of the knowledge, in this loss was the skills of dry-stone walling and hedgelaying. The little knowledge that survived the war the reminding walls and hedges were able to be maintained.

In time, the preferred fencing for farmers and gardeners were wooden stakes and wire netting. Resulting in the neglect of the remaining walls and hedges, they fell into disrepair. Many walls are left as wind breakers for livestock and wife life, over time new boundaries were created making the wall null for purpose. While many hedgerows where removal and replaced, others were left to grow wild.

Benefits of dry stone walls and hedges

The benefits of having hedgerows and stone walls are that they are environmentally friendly, with there material being natural and not man made.

The result of having these walls are that they make a great wind break which is beneficial for all animals, in many case’s they are used by a variety of wild life and plants as habitats.

When you think of the British countryside are your first thoughts could be the animal, the lush green grass then the hedges and stone walls; If so you are not alone.

Stone walls and hedges have a desirable effect wherever you chose to put them.

Training skills

Training in these heritage skills are hard to find, sympathetic works we are happy to help you gain theses skills.

Our aim is to save as much historic construction skills that is possible. So, we are happy to provide these skills to those who wish to learn. Check out our Course page to see what else we provide.


All information Provide has been collected by a member of Sympathetic Works Ltd, with help from Wikipedia search engine, The National Hedgelaying Society, BBC CountryFile and Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain. All pictures are the property of Sympathetic Works Ltd.

Young Persons in Construction Awards 2023

As a member of the Construction Development Alliance, we had the privilege to be in attendance for the Young Person in Construction (YPC) Awards, which was held at Burnley Mechanics on Thursday, the 25th of May, 2023.

Along with other members of the CDA, Sympathetic Works are delighted in being able to happy to support young people in their goal to reach higher and achieve more. 

The Young Person in Construction Awards 2023 aims to support, congratulate and encourage young people to continue their construction pursuits.  The CDA desires to recognise these young people’s daily work and let them know they are seen, recognised and appreciated.

What Awards?

These Awards give the CDA members the opportunity to work with the local communities to help support young people. The awards give us the chance to get together and celebrate the new professionals for their hard work and achievements.

There is a saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” yet it takes a similar support system to build a lasting career. As construction professionals, we support all young people in making their careers in the construction industry today.

These awards are a way of supporting these young people.

Left to right – Max Colligan (Sika), Ben Hall (Overcoming Adversity), Abi Brierley (Young Construction Professional and Overall Winner), Laura Gregson (Stand in for Sam Gregson – Young Construction Designer), Holly Duffy (Young Construction Apprentice), Connor Lynch (Young Construction Environmentalist), Charlie Luxton (Guest Speaker), Reid Lewis (HDP) and Emily Millar (Hawthorn Estates LTD)

The Award categories are:

The CDA members, colleges, employers and their guests are immensely proud of all the winners of this year’s YPCA. 

As a thank you for all their hard work, each winner received a certificate, trophy, and a personalised goodie bag to help them in their construction career.

A unique Award is held as a surprise for the night that Forbes Solicitors sponsored for the Overall Winner. 

The Overall Winner for the YPCA 2023 was Abigale Brierley, who won the Young Construction Professional. 

About the Evening

For each awards evening, there is a main sponsor who is important to the evening. As with the last few awards, the main sponsor was Sika. 

It is with this help from Sika that the YPCA welcomed an extraordinary celebrity personality, Charlie Luxton. Charlie is known for his shows, such as Channel Four’s – Building the Dream – Alongside his TV Shows, Charlie is an architectural designer who writes and speaks about the environment and sustainable architecture.


As a way to give back and support young people in the northwest, the CDA selected a chosen charity for the YPCA 23 Awards night.

For 2023’s chosen charity, it was decided by the CDA member to support the Horsfall and 42nd Street, they aim to help young people with their mental health and well-being. 

Through the last few years, a lot of young people have struggled, and Covid-19 has taken a massive toll on their self-esteem.  Why not donate today using our event fundraiser page if you haven’t already?  The CDA’s Justgiving page will continue to accept donations up until October 2023.

The Evening

The evening started with a drinks canopy sponsored by Booth King Associates, which allowed the Members and guests a chance to network.

In the auditorium, Burnley College sponsored the tables.

On the night, Abi Brierley, the Young Construction Professional and Overall Winner thanked those who supported her and added the wise words, “Whether it be an 18-year-old girl from Burnley, whether it be an apprentice, whether it be a graduate – Give them a chance, coz they might just be the future.”

For the evening charity, the CDA arranged sponsored hampers to be won as a thank-you to those who donated to the charity.  Each hamper was supported by the companies listed below:

With a whopping £1813.00 raised on the night, donations are still available using our JustGiving fundraising page. 

Donate Today.

Offering Thanks

Sympathetic Works would like to say a big thank you to all involved in the YPCA committee this year. 

It has taken a lot of time and patience.

Still, the hard work has paid off, giving these five young people a fantastic night and an opportunity for the CDA members to praise the up-and-coming construction professionals of tomorrow.

King Charles III – Coronation

Congratulations to the new King and Queen of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth Realms.

On the 6th of May 2023, the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and the rest of the World were invited to watch via TV broadcasting as King Charles III and Queen Camila (Queen Consort) were crowned as the new King and Queen of the UK and Commonwealth.

A symbolic formality, the coronation does not signify the official beginning of the monarch’s reign; their reign commences from the moment of the preceding monarch’s death (the death of the late Queen Elizabeth II), maintaining the legal continuity of the monarchy.

For some who have not researched or witnessed a Coronation before, the thought of a new ruler would be daunting. Yet for the UK and its commonwealth states, the King or Queen is not the head of a governing monarchy as seen in other countries.

What the Winsor family holds is the role of representing the country; the Sovereign and their family act as a focus for national identity, unity and pride.

The Winsor family’s part is to provide the people of the UK and Commonwealth a sense of strength and continuity, to officially recognise success and excellence, and to support the ideal of voluntary service.

Many can not remember the last time a monarch was crowned and the traditions accompanying the procedure. It had been reported that many practices would be adapted or removed as they no longer apply to the modern country.

There had been around 2,200 people that were invited to attend the coronation ceremony in person. This included members of the royal family, representatives of the Church of England and other Christian denominations, prominent politicians from the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, foreign royalty, heads of state and heads of government.

The ceremony was broadcast live via TV Broadcasting centres and on social media, with the BBC reporting to have had a peak of 13.4 million; this figure fluctuated throughout the day.

The HE Team would like to congratulate King Charles and Queen Camila on their new roles, and they wish them the very best for the future.

Information on the Royal Family of the United Kingdom can be found on the official website. Click here.

The Cobbled Road

The Cobbled Road

What is the first thing that pops into your head when you think of cobbled areas? Is it the path leading to the church you attended when young? maybe the main shopping road in a small-town centre you visited? More and more towns are ripping up the tarmac to reveal this craftsmanship. With the assistance of the heritage lottery small towns known for their historic gems can get the financial support they need.

“Cobbles describes the smoother, more rounded stones that were fashioned by natural erosion or running water and were used uncut, as found” Robin Russell Director of Corbel Conservation Ltd.

The main material used for hard standing areas e.g. court yards, paths and road ways, for millennia were cobble stones. The humble cobble stone was kicked to the curb, as cheaper materials became more available. The common misconception is that a sett are a form of cobbled road. Setts are commonly found were you have steeper streets, this is to help houses to climb the road ways easier. A sett is a smooth quarried stone that is cut to shape. In this article Cobbles with refer to both setts and cobbles. Popularity rose for smoother roadways the cobbled streets were removed or covered. Viewed as inadequate to cope with modern life styles. The knowledge of laying cobbled path and roadways disappeared when they were covered. This skill is largely lost with many other techniques. Conservation is now more popular. The cobbled stone areas that have survived today are viewed by many as precious, and beneficial so safety on busy streets. the sound of an approaching vehicle can be heard louder on the cobbled streets, letting pedestrians know a vehicle is approaching. But with revealing this material unearths the problems of keeping them maintained.

Maintenance of Cobbled areas

Taking care of our historic gems is very important as many have fallen into disrepair and resulted in damage. When undertaking repair work on the cobbles you need to use the right materials. Both for the cobbles and the bedding; this is so that you can preserve as much of the original area as possible.

Note – Do not remove more then what is necessary, the goal is to keep the path looking original as much as possible. It is beneficial to taking notes, sketches and photographs before the work commences, this will limit damage.

Our goal is to use as much of the original stone and bedding as possible, with repairing in mind instead of replacement. Any alterations and additions made should be reversible and case little to no harm to the original. It is also advisable to document the process of the repair work, as a reference for future reflection. This will aid others who will continue the conservation work you conducted. The appearance of the repair work should be almost invisible. Modern repairs once aged can add character and appeal in the same way as the historic stone.
Further information:
If you require a specialist to conduct cobble repairs we are happy to help you with consulting on your project. Training course are available on our courses page. Building Conservation
Construction Development Alliance awards- Nominees required!

Construction Development Alliance awards- Nominees required!

It’s that time again when the Construction Development Alliance Award, those Young Persons in the Construction Industry.

Do you know someone who will make a great candidate for the awards?

The deadline is the 20th of April, 2023.

Send your nomination today…


Every two years, The Construction Development Alliance (CDA) host’s an awards evening to award five young construction individuals for their hard work and determination in the construction field.

If you know of an exceptional young construction individual, why not nominate them today?

 Guest host

Image result for charlie luxton

The guest host for this year’s event is Charlie Luxton, Architect and TV presenter of Building The Dream on More4; along with the award sponsors, Charlie will hand the award to the winner.


The categories are:

  1. Overcoming Adversity
  2. Apprentice
  3. Construction Professional
  4. Young Construction Environmentalist
  5. Designer

Nomination Form

CDA Nomination Form Online

Local History – Rawtenstall – Whitaker Museum

Local History – Rawtenstall – Whitaker Museum

A Gift to the Children of Rawtenstall – Local Free Man Richard Whitaker bought and donated Oak Hill House and its grounds for the Children of Rawtenstall as a place of recreation and learning.
On the edge of Rawtenstall perched just off Haslingden road is a house and a beautiful garden park. Many know this place as Whitaker Park. We asked locals what comes to mind when they think about ‘The Whitaker’?
The common theme is the museum – that is found in the house. The people highlighted exhibitions such as the baby elephant, the snake and tiger, and the shrunken head. Only a few people know the story of how this home became a much-loved museum. In our research, it took time to get the history of this building. What we found was working people who were proud and still are of their heritage. We see this pride in the care given to the grounds and house.

What was the original purpose of the house?

In prime location to overlook the Working Mill at New Hall Hey; known to us today as the grade II listed building Hardman’s Mill. The 1840’s family home was built; originally standing on a 28acre park, which held cottages and farms. The Whitaker Park house was originally called Oakhill and was home for Major George Hardman (1794-1852) and his family. Oakhill had been a family home until Richard Whitaker bought the house and grounds in 1900, he wanted to create a museum and public park for the children of Rawtenstall. Mr Whitaker was born into poverty in 1829, one of thirteen he was working in Rawtenstall’s local mills at 6 years old. By the end of his career, he was a director of an Accrington company manufacturing mill machinery. The museum and public park where gifted to the children of Rawtenstall in 1902. Many Local mill owners gifted Items for the Museum and gardens.
When Richard Whitaker died in 1906 he had seen the growth of knowledge among the children of the needy. Richard not only Donated the Park and the Museum but also donated money for Almshouses, exhibitions, scholarships and allowances to the needy in the area.

What is it now?

From that first museum opening in 1902 by Richard Whitaker, the house has stayed as Richard had set out. Sadly, the house fell into disuse and in 2013 the Whitaker was brought back to life and transformed into the Rossendale Museum & Art Gallery. Under the leadership of the newly formed ‘Whitaker Group’, a journey began with the restoration and enhancement of this prized park.
The Whitaker Group are passionate that the aims of the museum remain true to its original 1902 declaration; to educate and enlighten the people of Rossendale, providing a focus for learning and cultural activity into the 21st Century.
The Whitaker house is now a privately owned business that runs the museum with a small café open Tuesday-Sunday 9.30am-5pm. The Whitaker Park is owned and maintained by Rossendale Borough Council. See what treasures the house has for you to learn from. Maybe enjoy a nice hot drink with a lovely view or a leisurely stroll around the park, the Whitaker is your place.

Learn More

To learn more about the local history and the traditional building works check out our Training courses. For More information please follow the links below. Public Art Collection North West: A history and Guide By Edward Morris – p.g. 153, Mill Guide, The Whitaker Official Website. Notes on the Hardman Family, Fishink blog.