“It has been my privilege to know Gerard for many years. I first became aware of him on a visit to Bedford College of Higher Education, where as Head of Trowel Trades he had courageously reintroduced the higher craft skills associated with gauged brickwork to broaden the curriculum for modern apprentice bricklayers. It was a joy to see the high quality of work being achieved by the apprentices in the early 1990s at Bedford under Gerard’s watchful eye and to be comforted that here at least an effort was being made to pass on fast disappearing advanced craftwork skills.
Not content with mastering and teaching the skills to build and repair gauged brickwork to others, Gerard was determined to research further the origins and development of gauged brickwork in England. To this end, through the links he had developed with De Montfort University as a Visiting Lecturer to our MA programme in Architectural Conservation, he registered for an MA by Independent Study which was awarded with Distinction (2000), before going on to successfully complete a his PhD thesis on English Gauged Brickwork (2004).
His academic work has revealed a fascinating story of how knowledge and skills of working bricks in their post-fired state were transferred into England by immigrant Flemish masons/bricklayers in the fifteenth-century, and provides penetrating insights into the development of trade and craft practices of gauged brickwork in England over the centuries until its decline in the years following the First World War. Gerard’s PhD thesis not only fills many gaps in our knowledge, and can be considered to be the definitive work on the subject, but it also points the way forward to the implementation of effective training programmes to equip tradesmen and built environment professionals alike to repair and conserve our rich brick-built heritage sympathetically”
Dip Surv, Dip Arch Cons, FRICS, FBEng, FRSA, ILTM, IHBC Professor of Building Surveying, Department of Product & Spatial Design, De Montfort University, Leicester