Mount Stewart is a 19th-century house and garden in County Down. The house was built by the Marquees of Londonderry. The National Trust undertook an extensive conservation and restoration project at Mount Stewart that was completed in 2015. The main aim of the project at Mount Stewart was the safeguarding of one of the most significant buildings in the country and preserving it for the benefit of the whole nation forever. A key objective of the project was to maintain and develop traditional skills and craftsmanship, therefore, the employment of apprentice joiners was crucial in achieving that.
Callum McCaffrey was the most able and worthy apprentice working on the project, carrying out repair work to the doors, architraves and windows. His efforts extended beyond the physical conservation work as he engaged with visitors at events to explain the work that was being carried out. Callum took on highly complex tasks. A key example was the replacement of the cast iron balustrade and railings to the gallery in the Central Hall, and restoration of the wooden balustrade.
The balustrade contained a detailed and ornate wooden spindle and Callum’s passion for working with timber was evident when he volunteered to produce the prototype spindle, working from black and white photographs with minimal details he was able to turn out, on the workshop lathe, various spindle examples, one of which was selected by Lady Rose as that which represented most the original shape and profile. Under the supervision of the Senior Joiner, he quickly became proficient in timber repairs and by the end of the project his work was worthy of someone far in advance of his age. Callum’s work acted as integral part of the project and his engagement skills also helped to showcase the conservation work carried out at Mount Stewart.