Gerard Lynch is an internationally acclaimed and highly respected historic brickwork consultant, master bricklayer, educator and author. He followed a traditional apprenticeship as a bricklayer and, over the years through his natural ability within his craft, gained many awards, including the Silver and Gold Trowels from the Brick Development Association and is a Licentiate of the City and Guilds of London Institute (LCG). He is a former Head lecturer of Trowel Trades at Bedford College, pioneering a revival of gauged brickwork, in which he is considered the world’s leading authority, and other almost forgotten traditional craft skills; and is affectionately known by the historic term, ‘The Red Mason’. He returned to contracting and set up a private consultancy practice in 1992.
He is the author of Gauged Brickwork A Technical Handbook (Gower, 1990, revised 2006, Donhead Publishing), Brickwork: History: Technology and Practice (volumes 1 and 2, Donhead Publishing, 1994) and The History of Gauged Brickwork: Conservation, Repair and Modern Applications (Elsevier Limited 2007). Also various peer-reviewed papers and articles on various traditional and historical aspects of his craft, which have received wide praise for their content and have led in the revival of interest for traditional historic building practices and their successful re-interpretation.
His expert opinion is now regularly sought for proposed repairs and restoration for many domestic buildings, some of immense national importance, such as Hampton Court Palace, The Old Admiralty Building, The Royal Albert Hall, Windsor Castle and St Pancras Station. This has also extended to internationally important brick buildings in Ireland and The United States of America. Within this consultative capacity he undertakes condition reports, detailing causes of failure, making recommendations for appropriate remedial actions and writing specifications. Gerard delivers bespoke training, and has acted in a Clerk of Works role. He is also regularly called upon to act as an Expert Witness within his field of expertise in matters of dispute and impasse.
A regular, and highly regarded, course leader at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum, Sussex, Gerard lectures and holds Master Classes on several aspects of historical brickwork and lectures at neighbouring West Dean College too. An acknowledged authority on traditional lime mortars his specialist ‘Lime Days’ are particularly celebrated.
Gerard also regularly lectures for various heritage organisations, universities, and professional bodies both in this country and abroad. Within his own workshop he provides bespoke courses for craftsmen and women for individual specialised tuition and has tutored William Morris Craft Fellowship Scholars (Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings – SPAB) and Craft Scholars from ‘The Prince’s Foundation’. He is advisor and Senior Tutor for the National Heritage training Group (NHTG), being particularly active with the ‘Training the Trainers’ initiative that assists college craft lecturers to learn traditional skills and knowledge, and is advisor to Construction Skills, assisting both to develop apprenticeship training with heritage skills to develop a more fully-rounded person capable of working on both modern and traditional aspects of their craft. Gerard also compiled the new pilot NVQ Heritage Level III Brickwork Scheme.
Gerard was awarded a ‘Winston Churchill Travel Fellowship’ to research the historic brickwork of the Netherlands and the Flemish regions of Belgium and France, in particular to look at historical methods of post fired working of bricks for architectural enrichments and their repair. Using the knowledge gained during his research he gained an MA in ‘Conservation of Historic Brickwork’, (Distinction) , in 1999, at De Montfort University, Leicester and was awarded a Doctorate in ‘Historic Brickwork Technology’ in 2004 at the same university. His PhD thesis encompassed original research into this highly specialised branch of the craft, its skills, and with it the long lost use of historic tools, such as the brick axe, (last seen in use over 150 years ago), and their influence on the craft of gauged brickwork in its introduction into England.
Gerard’s move into a wider international arena, is with the Office of Public Works in Eire as their retained consultant on several conservation and restoration projects. In The United States he acts as consultant for Mesick, Cohen, Wilson and Baker Architects on several buildings of huge state and national importance; including President Madison’s home, ‘Montpelier’, Orange County, Virginia. He has since given numerous lectures and demonstrations in America. Invited as ‘Keynote Speaker’ at the ‘International Preservation Trades Workshops’ (IPTW) in Alabama 2004, his opening speech ‘Putting Value back into Craft Education and Training’ received wide praise and further invitations to be Keynote Speaker. At the ‘International Trades Education Symposium’ (ITES) in Ohio, 2005, Sweden, 2007 and just before that at the ‘Kentucky Historic Preservation Conference’, for the Kentucky Heritage Council; also in 2006. As a result of the latter he was given the title of ‘Kentucky Colonel’, the Commonwealth’s highest honour, awarded for his significant contribution to craft education and training.
Gerard was awarded the ‘Askins Achievement Award’ at the IPTW, in Frederick, Maryland in October 2007. The award is given every year to nominees who have made significant contributions to craft education and training, and is named after Jim Askins, who founded the National Parks Service Historic Preservation Programme in the United States. Gerard has recently been appointed as an unpaid Director of the US based Preservation Trades Network (PTN).
His latest publication as part of an advice series for the Department of Heritage and Local\l Government in Ireland, in association with Susan Roundtree and Grainne Shaffrey ‘bricks’ A Guide To The Repair Of Historic Brickwork’ was launched in Dublin in February 2009.
“As an accomplished craftsman Gerard’s experiences give him a particular specialist appreciation that allows a singularly practical interpretation of the fact his investigations reveal. His studies advance not only a fuller understanding of historical building methods but they identify practical improvements of the conservation, restoration and repair techniques applied to the rich heritage of brick buildings.” Michael Hammett Dip Arch ARIBA, (2001), former Senior Architect, Brick Development Association.
“Gerard Lynch has already made a substantial contribution towards the understanding, application, repair and conservation of gauged brickwork, through his books and teaching. I consider him to be the leading UK authority on his subject, combining a very high level of craft skills with a considerable knowledge of the history and technology of brick production in this specialised area.” The late Professor John Ashurst, (1992), D. Arch, RIBA.