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Prince opens construction college

December 12th, 2009

The Prince of Wales has officially opened a construction college at his “model” village in Dorset.

The Dorset Construction and Training Centre, in Poundbury, runs Weymouth College’s stone masonry courses.

The prince met students in the college’s workshop and was handed a slab of Portland stone to carve by lecturer Richard Mortimer.

Poundbury, which was created in 1993, is an urban extension to Dorchester on the prince’s Duchy of Cornwall land.

It was built by the prince to encourage greener ways of living and is home to 1,500 people, with plans to house 5,000 people by 2025.

The college has been running since February and aims to become a Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Construction.

It also runs heritage-based courses including roof thatching and dry-stone walling.

‘Complete fool’

The prince was taught to use a steel dummy and letter cutting chisel to carve out parts of a nail point pattern into a piece of slab.

He said there was a “large black hole” in terms of stonemasonry skills in the UK.

“I couldn’t be more pleased to see what is happening here,” he added.

“The quality of the training and the apprentices is remarkable.”

The prince joked: “All I have done is to make a complete fool of myself by being offered a go at making a nasty mess of a lump of stone, which makes me more appreciative of the amazing skill needed to do this work.”

Lecturer Richard Mortimer said it was an “honour” to teach the prince.

“He did really well,” he said.

“He picked the chisel up straight away and went straight into it, he didn’t hold back at all.”

The students will give a stone and teak bench to Clarence House as a gift once it is finished.

The prince, who has been patron of the Samaritans charity since 1999, went on to meet volunteers from the Weymouth branch, which celebrates its 40th anniversary next spring.

He officially handed over the keys to their new £5,000 van, bought after more than a year of fundraising, to transport up to six volunteers at a time

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