Keeping History Alive: Scottish Lime Centre Trust is Preserving Our Traditional Buildings

Keeping History Alive: Scottish Lime Centre is Preserving Our Traditional Buildings 

As head of Bell Ingram Design, architect Iain Cram wears a number of different hats, but none so interesting as his role as a Trustee of the Scottish Lime Centre Trust.

The Scottish Lime Centre Trust (SLCT) was established in 1994 in response to the growing concern over a skills’ shortage in the field of traditional building technology.

And over the last three decades, this not-for-profit organisation has promoted the appropriate repair of traditional buildings, and the conservation and development of associated building traditions, crafts and skills through training and education.

The importance of preserving traditional building skills came into sharp focus recently for Bell Ingram Design who are key members of the team tasked with the restoration of A-Listed Braemar Castle in Aberdeenshire.

Iain explains: “Braemar Castle is a perfect example of how vision and craftmanship can give a rundown landmark a new lease of life as a visitor attraction and community resource.

“By using the traditional lime mortar process in the conservation process we are recognising the importance of Scotland’s older built environment, not just because of its heritage and cultural value, but because of the need for environmental and economic sustainability.”

Through their work on other buildings of high significance – including the Marshall Monument in Perth and the Brechin Townscape Initiative – Iain and his BID team have built up a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities that face these places as our needs and expectations evolve through time.

Iain continues: “I believe that architects accredited in conservation have an essential part to play in safeguarding our built heritage and organisations like SLCT are an essential support to integrating heritage skills in to ‘mainstream’ construction training.”

Based in Charlestown in Fife, the catalyst for the creation of the Scottish Lime Centre was rising concern over the effects of using ordinary Portland cement on historic masonry buildings.

Rosamond Artis MRICS IHBC RICS, Director of the Scottish Lime Centre Trust, explains: “Over the past 150 years or so, since the introduction of cement, the lime industry in the UK has dwindled and the cement industry boomed with cement technology developing to produce harder and stronger material. Don’t get us wrong, we think modern cement is a great product, it should just never go anywhere near a historic masonry structure!

“The increased use of cement in the construction industry resulted in the loss of knowledge and skills required to correctly and appropriately specify and use lime mortars. Through the later part of last century we increasingly saw the damage that was being caused by overly hard cement mortars, but the products, knowledge and skills were not available to transition back to the use of lime mortars, and this is where we come in.

“In 1994 our organisation was established to bridge this gap and to bring back the understanding and skill required to successfully use lime mortars. Our remit has developed over the years and still specialists in lime mortar use and technology, we have a broader scope of providing advice, guidance and training relating to all aspects of traditional building technology.”

The Scottish Lime Centre Trust runs practical courses aimed at all levels covering a wide range of traditional materials and techniques, designed to enhance craft skills and awareness. These are aimed at tradespeople and craftspeople; building supervisors and site agents; architects, engineers and surveyors; conservation officers; homeowners; students; voluntary conservation groups; estate managers; and those who just want to learn new skills.

The organisation also promotes Continuing Professional Development (CPD) through lectures, seminars, demonstrations and practical courses for architects, surveyors, conservation officers and students.

Its building advisory service offers professional and technical consultancy and advice provided directly to building owners or their appointed architect/surveyor.

The organisation even offers a Materials Analysis Service and a Sands & Aggregates Database which holds records of currently available sands and aggregates enabling the appropriate specification for use in lime mortars and ability to match both the appearance and physical properties of a historic mortar.

More information online at

Our people

Iain Cram

Iain Cram

Tel: 01738 621 121

About: Iain is Partner in charge of Bell Ingram Design. His main role is working with clients on projects from the initial concept, through site searches, funding challenges and statutory consents. He's an experienced and talented architect with a long track record, working on a diverse range of projects from small scale residential through to large public, commercial, residential and tourism builds. Interests: Architecture, Building Surveying, Trustee of the Scottish Lime Centre, a highly respected historic building skills training centre.

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    Article posted on 12/09/2022