Independent lead manufacture Midland Lead has been supplying thousands of pounds of raw materials and tools to colleges for free as part of their drive to aid the training and development of future roofers. On account of their commitment to support construction colleges, Midland Lead has now added five new institutions to the portfolio of colleges they support across the country.
After building a successful rapport with Leeds College of Building (LCB), over the last six years, it was marketing and sales manager, Lynn Street, who saw the potential in that relationship to create more. With the help of Simon Dixon training manager at the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC), Lynn began to broaden the search to make more connections with construction colleges.
As of March, Midland Lead has now committed to supporting six colleges across the country. So far, these are Leeds College of Building, Newcastle College, South Devon College, Eastern Region Roof Training Group, Dudley College and the South Coast Roof Training Group.
Midland Lead’s commitment to these institutions means the company supplies colleges with up to a metric tonne of rolled lead, the value of which costs £2,200 at current market value. On top of that, the company provides lead working tools, tool belts and other ancillary products such as sealant and patination oil.
Many colleges can’t afford to provide their roofing students with these specialised tools and lead to practise working with, as Chris Messenger, tutor at LCB, remarked: “Without the support we receive from Midland Lead our apprentice students wouldn’t be able to work with lead itself.”
Colleges tend to use plastic alternative-lead products to keep costs down, but as Chris points out this has its downsides. He said: “It is only by using the actual material that apprentices can learn best practice when it comes to working with lead itself.”
What’s more, the sustainable nature of lead manufacture means that nothing goes to waste. At the end of the term, when the lead has been used, the scrap is collected by Midland Lead and recycled.
Since its relationship with Leeds College of Building started six years ago the family-run company has been welcoming student groups to the site for factory tours.
Visiting the factory is a fantastic experience for the students. It is an excellent opportunity to appreciate the various processes behind lead manufacture before it reaches building sites in its final form. After a recent visit to the processing plant, the LCB apprentices agreed that seeing the process of manufacture encouraged greater respect for the product.
Matt Ford, a first-year student at Leeds, said: “If you know the how and why behind the manufacture and treatment of lead, then you can give the product the quality of care it needs.”
Matt’s tutor Chris Messenger agrees, believing that this extra insight into the industry gives his students a real appreciation for the material. He said: “Midland Lead takes you on a first-class journey of the lead manufacturing process from plant to site. It makes students really get to grips with using such a long-lasting material.”