Elizabeth Sharples

Elizabeth Sharples has just finished the first year of the MSc in Historic Conservation. She is being funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund studentship with the Bletchley Park Trust as part of Project Neptune, to restore buildings at the home of the code-breakers, and is studying at Brookes part-time. This is her story so far.


Before you came to Brookes what did you study and where?

I studied Disaster Management at Coventry University.

What made you choose Brookes as a place to study?

I love the city of Oxford, and the course at Brookes has a really good reputation and is accredited by several professional bodies, such as the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC).

What do you think of the course you are studying now?

The course is fantastic - it combines the knowledge needed in law and philosophy of building conservation with practical workshops and professional speakers sharing their experience.

How does your scholarship enhance your experience of the course?

My scholarship from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) is partnered with the Bletchley Park Trust, where I am working as a conservation trainee. This practical experience and involvement with the conservation and restoration work undertaken in the park has been invaluable to me, as I have been able to apply my knowledge gained at university to a real conservation project.

What are the best bits of studying at Brookes?

The support provided by the university - all the lecturers and staff are incredibly knowledgeable and genuinely want to help the students.

What advice do you have for others?

Never be afraid to ask for support or guidance at Brookes, as you will receive it.

What do you think of your time at Bletchley?

It has been wonderful to be employed at Bletchley, and be part of the Neptune Project - the knowledge and experience gained has been invaluable to my understanding of the practicalities of building conservation.

Tell us about the project

The Neptune Project, now complete, is an £8 million, Heritage Lottery Funded restoration project which has restored the site to its wartime glory, allowing visitors to experience what it was like for the codebreakers who worked there during WW2. Block C has been transformed into a vibrant visitor centre and the fragile wooden codebreaking huts 3 and 6 have been rescued and lovingly brought back to life. The historic parkland which was ordered to be retained, so that the codebreakers had space to breathe and innovate, has been restored with the removal of modern day intrusions such as car parks.

What is your responsibility within the project team?

As the Conservation Trainee, my main responsibilities are keeping the photographic record of the works, completing the conservation chart which details the work undertaken, and I am currently working on the evaluation of the Neptune Project for the HLF.

What experience have you gained at Bletchley Park?

Too much to list! Working with the architect and contractors, a practical understanding of the mechanics of large conservation projects, and the various aspects of decision making in restoration and conservation projects, as well as the importance of keeping records, photographs and up to date with reports.

What are your plans for when you’ve completed your course?

I am hoping that my contract at Bletchley will be extended, or that I can gain a similar role in building conservation with another charity or organisation.