The arts of flintknapping, pargeting and lead-working are at risk of extinction with only a handful of specialists left, Historic England has said.

The charity fears historic buildings are at risk of deteriorating and decaying beyond repair, unless a new generation of tradesmen take up the mantle.

Building skills from the Roman-era could disappear, but the largest one-off investment ever in heritage construction training in England will fund a training project over the next five years.

Historic England will announce this week that a grant of £4.325 million has been made by the Hamish Ogston Foundation, established in 2019 to support health, heritage and music.

The money will also train apprentices in traditional carpentry, plastering, roofing and stonemasonry.

They will help to save some of the 5,097 buildings and sites on Historic England’s 2020 Heritage at Risk Register, focusing initially on the North of England, including Grade I listed Wentworth Woodhouse in Yorkshire.

It is undergoing an extensive repairs programme that lends itself to training people. The vast exterior requires stonework and joinery, as well as work to save historic windows. Internally, 18th-century plasterwork is cracked.

Duncan Wilson, Historic England’s chief executive, said that without specialist skills it would be extremely difficult to repair such buildings. He said: “Builders can be trained to do these things, but it does require building up a substantial volume of expertise and practical experience.”

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