The Scottish Lime Centre Trust (SLCT) was established in 1994 as a ‘not for profit’ organisation registered as a charity in Scotland in response to growing concern over the shortage of skills and understanding in the field of traditional building technology.  Our essential aims are to promote and encourage the appropriate repair of traditional buildings, and to conserve and develop the associated building traditions, crafts and skills through training and education.

The catalyst for our creation was the rising concern for the effects of using ordinary Portland cement on historic masonry buildings. 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 speciallists 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.

Our aims and objectives:

  • To promote for the public benefit the appropriate repair of traditional and historic buildings both nationally and internationally;
  • To advance education through the provision of advice, training and practical experience in the use of lime and other traditional skills for the repair and conservation of historic buildings;
  • To promote and further the preservation and development of traditional crafts and skills.

The main activities of the Scottish Lime Centre are:

  • Traditional skills training: practical courses aimed at all levels covering a wide range of traditional materials and techniques, designed to enhance craft skills and awareness;
  • Continuing Professional Development (CPD): lectures, seminars, demonstrations and practical courses for architects, surveyors, conservation officers and students;
  • Building advisory service: professional and technical consultancy and advice provided directly to building owners or their appointed architect/surveyor;
  • Materials analysis: analysis and evaluation of building materials for aiding repair specifications, archaeological purposes and to identify reasons for failure;
  • Sands & Aggregates Database: a database holding 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;
  • Technical Publications: production of and contributions to technical publications giving information on lime and lime-based materials and their use, including commissioned Technical Advice Notes for Historic Scotland.

The Scottish Lime Centre has a multi-skilled/multi-disciplined staff and external consultants (employed for specific projects) with a broad range of experience and expertise. We work as a team in an informal, but very productive, atmosphere in our Charlestown Workshops offices which we rescued and restored under the remit of a building preservation trust.

The work of the Trust benefits from generous assistance in kind from a number of industry sources, and from our Trustees who represent a wide range of expertise in the field of building conservation and materials technology. The Trustees act as unpaid non-executive directors of the company, providing support and advice to the Directors.

The Scottish Lime Centre Trust is funded through fees for its courses and advisory work and through several small grants.

The Scottish Lime Centre Trust is accredited by the SQA (both as a training centre and, specifically, to deliver the National Units in Conservation Masonry) and is a branded Learn Direct Centre within the umbrella of the Scottish University for Industry (SUfI) and most of our training courses eligible for ILA Scotland funding.

Our Courses are for:

  • Building tradespeople and craftspeople;
  • Building supervisors and site agents;
  • Architects, Engineers & Surveyors;
  • Conservation Officer;
  • Homeowners;
  • Students;
  • Voluntary conservation groups;
  • Estate managers;
  • Those who just want to learn new skills.

Our main emphasis is on aspects of traditional masonry construction and finishing, encompassing repair, conservation and new building work. There are practical skills courses, seminars on theory and technical issues, workshops for school children and special interest groups, and longer placements for conservation students.

The use of appropriate traditional materials and techniques is important if repairs to historic or traditional buildings are to be effective. For anyone involved in the conservation or repair of these buildings, an understanding of the behaviour of traditionally constructed buildings and of the properties and use of lime mortars in their repair and maintenance, is becoming increasingly important.

For the building industry we offer a range of practical skills upgrading courses, with an emphasis on the understanding and use of lime-based materials. These range from one day introductory workshops to formal National Units in Conservation Masonry, accredited by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA). Many of our courses are also recognised by bodies such as the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) and the Scottish University for Industry (SUfI).

Our professional education programme includes a range of building conservation seminars, master classes and other Continuing Professional Development (CPD) events, which support building professionals in the achievement of their formal building conservation accreditation. We also offer seminars or training workshops on other topics, such as environmentally conscious building, and courses may be commissioned by other organisations to meet their own requirements.

Homeowners regularly attend the workshops to improve their understanding and skills for maintenance of traditional or historic houses, and we also offer Workshops specifically for school groups. Other group visits are also welcome.  In addition to our comprehensive programme of regular Workshops, courses are commissioned by organisations such as Historic Scotland and local authorities.

The full range of practical courses is designed to build up knowledge of traditional masonry construction and traditional finishes in a logical sequence, starting from a basic understanding of lime technology and its application in masonry work through to the skills required for tasks such as the conservation and repair of historic plasterwork. More intensive courses are also available to experienced tradesmen and apprentices in the building industry, leading to the award of SQA recognised National Units in Conservation Masonry.

Certificates are awarded at the end of each of our courses as proof of attendance.

We are always happy to help learners choose the right course. Please contact us if you would like to discuss which course is suitable for you or your employees.