The HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts at Fortnum & Mason

The HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts at Fortnum & Mason

Where: Fortnum & Mason, 181 Piccadilly, London W1A 1ER
Displays: 4 to 10 October 2021
Demonstrations: 8 October 2021, 12 to 5pm

We are delighted to be partnering with Fortnum & Mason for a focus on endangered crafts and the HCA Red List throughout London Craft Week. Throughout the week, take in displays of information and photographs at the flagship Piccadilly store, and from midday on Friday 8 October watch demonstrations from endangered craft practitioners such as scissor making, bee skep making and basketwork furniture making.

In attendance is Ernest Wright scissor makers, the winners of the inaugural HCA President’s Award for Endangered Crafts, shortlisted by a panel that included Fortnum & Mason Chair Kate Hobhouse and selected by HCA President HRH The Prince of Wales.

Come along and find out more about endangered crafts and what you can do to help safeguard them.

Craft skills under threat with 27 additions to the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts

Craft skills under threat with 27 additions to the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts

Barometer making at O Comitti & Son Ltd

Barometer making at O Comitti & Son Ltd, a critically endangered craft

New research by the Heritage Crafts Association has unearthed more traditional craft skills on the verge of extinction in the UK, in the latest major update of its pioneering project, the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts.

The research, which has been funded by The Pilgrim Trust, has found that COVID-19 has only exacerbated the issues faced by our most at-risk skills, after a year that has seen many craftspeople pushed to the brink.

20 new crafts have been added to the ‘critically endangered’ category of the HCA Red List, meaning that they are at serious risk of dying out in the next generation, including diamond cutting, mouth-blown sheet glass making, pointe shoe making and glass eye making. They join the list of 130 endangered crafts, including eight that have been reclassified as being at a higher level of risk than when the research was last updated in 2019.

Kiltmaking at The Kiltmakery

Kiltmaking at The Kiltmakery, an endangered craft

Critically endangered crafts include those with very few practitioners, few (if any) trainees and a lack of viable training routes by which the skills can be passed on. Often they serve very niche markets, and craftspeople cannot afford to step away from production to train their successors for fear those markets will disappear.

It’s not all bad news, however, as no new crafts have become extinct in the past two years, and some, such as gilding and pole-lathe bowl turning, have seen an upturn in their fortunes. In many cases this has been as a result of a new-found appreciation of the handmade and the need to support small businesses during the pandemic. In others it has been due to direct support from the Heritage Crafts Association, which since the publication of the last edition of the HCA Red List has distributed 27 grants of up to £2,000 each as part of its Endangered Crafts Fund.

Mary Lewis, who led the research on behalf of the Heritage Crafts Association, said:

“COVID-19 has been tough on everyone, not least the craftspeople who possess our most fundamental craft skills. Society is rapidly changing around us, and it is more important than ever that we are aware of the cultural assets still available to us, so that we can have an informed debate about what we want to safeguard as a resource for the future. If we allow endangered crafts to disappear then we seriously diminish the opportunities for future generations to create their own sustainable and fulfilling livelihoods, based on these skills.”

Whilst the UK has been a world-leader in the preservation of tangible heritage (museum collections, buildings and monuments), it has fallen behind the rest of the world when it comes to the safeguarding of intangible heritage (knowledge, skills and practices). Of 193 UNESCO members, the UK is one of just 13 that have not yet ratified the 2003 Convention on the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage, and government responsibility for heritage crafts falls in the gap between agencies set up to support arts and heritage.

Sue Bowers, Director of The Pilgrim Trust, said:

“We are delighted to support the continuing development of the Red List which is so important in tracking the state of heritage crafts in the UK and creating the platform for discussions about how we can bring about positive change in the future.”

The HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts 2021 edition is available to view online at


About the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts

HCA Red List 2021The 2021 edition of the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts was led by Mary Lewis, HCA Endangered Crafts Manager, supported by The Pilgrim Trust. The project runs alongside Mary’s work in identifying and developing interventions to improve the prospects of such crafts, funded by The Swire Charitable Trust, The Garfield Weston Foundation and The Dulverton Trust.

For the 2021 edition, 244 crafts have been assessed to identify those which are at greatest risk of disappearing. Of the 134 crafts featured on the Red List, four have been classified as extinct, 56 as critically endangered and 74 as endangered. The remaining 110 are classed as currently viable.

Drawing on information such as the current number of craftspeople and trainees, the average age of practitioners, opportunities to learn, and other issues affecting the future of the crafts, including the impact of COVID-19, the research assesses how likely it is that the craft skills will be passed on to the next generation. From armour making and arrowsmithing to wig making and woodturning, each has been assigned to one of four categories: extinct, critically endangered, endangered or currently viable.

Four crafts are known to have become extinct in the UK in the last fifteen years (cricket ball making, gold beating, lacrosse stick making, and paper mould and deckle making) with one more (sieve and riddle making) brought back from extinction.


New crafts for 2021

New critically endangered crafts (crafts classified as ‘critically endangered’ are those at serious risk of no longer being practised in the UK. They may include crafts with a shrinking base of craftspeople, crafts with limited training opportunities, crafts with low financial viability, or crafts where there is no mechanism to pass on the skills and knowledge.)

  • Barometer making
  • Bowed-felt hat making
  • Brilliant cutting
  • Coiled straw basket making
  • Compass making
  • Copper wheel engraving
  • Currach making
  • Diamond cutting
  • Fabric pleating
  • Frame knitting
  • Glass eye making
  • Hazel basket making
  • Highlands and Islands thatching
  • Horsehair weaving
  • Mouth-blown sheet glass making
  • Pointe shoe making
  • Shetland lace knitting
  • Silver spinning
  • Sporran making
  • Wooden fishing net making

New endangered crafts (Crafts classified as ‘endangered’ are those which currently have sufficient craftspeople to transmit the craft skills to the next generation, but for which there are serious concerns about their ongoing viability. This may include crafts with a shrinking market share, an ageing demographic or crafts with a declining number of practitioners.)

  • Hat making
  • Kilt making
  • Lithograpy
  • Skeined willow working
  • Sofrut calligraphy
  • Spectacle making
  • Type founding and manufacture


About the Endangered Crafts Fund

The Heritage Crafts Association’s Endangered Crafts Fund was set up in 2019 to ensure that the most at-risk heritage crafts within the UK are given the support they need to thrive. The Fund is used to support makers and trainees who wish to develop or share their skills in the crafts that have been identified as being most at risk.

To date, 27 projects have been funded with support from the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Dulverton Trust, the Sussex Heritage Trust, Allchurches Trust, the Radcliffe Trust and the Swire Charitable Trust.

Anyone wishing to donate to the fund may do so securely online. Alternatively, please send a cheque made payable to ‘Heritage Crafts Association’ with an accompanying note specifying ‘Endangered Crafts Fund’ to: Heritage Crafts Association, 27 South Road, Oundle, Peterborough PE8 4BU.


About the Pilgrim Trust

The Pilgrim Trust is an independent grantmaking trust that supports the urgent and future needs of the UK. It gives approximately £3 million in grants per year to charities and other public bodies that either focus on preserving the UK’s heritage or catalysing social change. Its preservation and scholarship fund aims to preserve the fabric of historically important buildings and to conserve significant collections and artefacts. It wants present and future generations to enjoy the rich and diverse heritage found throughout the UK.

Red List 2021 support from the Pilgrim Trust

We are pleased to announce a new six-month research project funded by the Pilgrim Trust, which will provide a major update and expansion of our groundbreaking Red List of Endangered Crafts, first published in 2017.

TPilgrim Trusthe 2019 Red List of Endangered Crafts brought the plight of these skills to national attention, with coverage across the national press and BBC Radio on the day of publication. It identified 71 endangered and 36 critically endangered crafts, which, for a number of reasons, including a lack of effective training routes and an ageing workforce, faced an uncertain future.

We have spent much of 2020 supporting the sole traders and micro-businesses that make up the UK heritage crafts sector through a particularly difficult time, as opportunities for direct selling and teaching their skills have been curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 edition of the Red List will consider the knock-on effect of this on the viability of the crafts skills themselves.

HCAThe Sound of Craft Endangered Crafts Officer Mary Lewis will take up the role of Research Manager for the project, thanks to funding of £15,000 from the Pilgrim Trust. The funding will also contribute to a series of endangered crafts symposia gathering together experts in particular craft disciplines to more fully investigate the rarer skills and local variations that make up their craft.

The 2019 version of the Red List is available to view at If you would like to contribute information for the new version, please email Mary Lewis at The updated Red List will be published at a press launch in May 2021.

Mary Lewis, HCA Red List Research Manager, said:

“COVID-19 has only exacerbated the challenges facing endangered craft skills, and our mission is to bring to light the knowledge and practices that are now on the brink, so that as a society we can have an informed debate on which parts of our intangible cultural heritage we want to keep as a resource for the future. Over the next few months I will be reaching out to craft practitioners to renew and supplement the existing data, with both accuracy improvements and real world changes. Please feel free to contribute by contacting me at”

Sue Bowers, Director of the Pilgrim Trust, said:

“We are delighted to support the continuing development of the Red List which is so important in tracking the state of heritage crafts in the UK and creating the platform for discussions about how we can bring about positive change in the future.”


About the Pilgrim Trust

The Pilgrim Trust aims to preserve and promote Britain’s historical and intellectual assets and to provide assistance to vulnerable members of society. Sixty percent of its funding is directed towards projects aimed at preserving the fabric of architecturally or historically important buildings, or projects working to preserve historically significant artifacts or documents.

HCA joins forces with the Michelangelo Foundation to bring the Red List to Europe

Launch of the partnership between the HCA and the Michelangelo FoundationThe Heritage Crafts Association is delighted to announce a partnership with the Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship to bring the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts to a European level.

The new partnership launched with a presentation at Somerset House on 28 February 2020. Alberto Cavalli (Co-Executive Director of the Michelangelo Foundation) and Patricia Lovett MBE (Chair of Heritage Crafts Association) introduced the partnership, followed by a panel discussion moderated by Oliver Stratford (Editor-in-chief of Designo) exploring different perspectives regarding endangered crafts and their place in contemporary craftsmanship. The panel is composed of Daniel Carpenter (Red List Research Manager at the Heritage Crafts Association), Rosy Greenlees (Executive Director of the Crafts Council), Kate Hetherington (collar and harness maker) and Mark Webb (Fundraising and Development Manager at The Prince’s Foundation).

The partnership between the two organisations aims to build collective awareness of the threats facing traditional heritage craftsmanship and to seek new and innovative ways to usher endangered crafts safely into the future, ensuring the continuity of practices and the adaptation of crafts to meet contemporary demands.

Somerset HouseTo celebrate the partnership the Michelangelo Foundation commissioned three short films by Swiss film maker Thibault Vallotton that highlight three British singular talents who are pursuing crafts in the UK that are classified as endangered. The films give an intimate insight into the worlds of these treasured British artisanal talents who are striving to uphold their cherished skills.

The featured craftspeople were:

  • Kate Hetherington, collar and harness maker
  • Derek and Timothy Staines, orrery maker
  • David Adrian Smith MBE, reverse glass sign maker

One of the films is part of a new series, featuring 12 exceptional craftspeople from across all of Europe which will be unveiled in an exhibition entitled Singular Talents – The Red List at the second edition of Homo Faber, the crafts biennalé being held in Venice this autumn.  The specially commissioned films draw back the curtain on these master artisans and their unique or rare professions.

The HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts provides a vital research methodology, identifying and classifying endangered crafts in the United Kingdom. It assesses the viability of such crafts and categorises those most at risk of disappearing. The Michelangelo Foundation, inspired by the grassroots-led bottom-up research methodology of the Heritage Crafts Association will enlist its wide network of European members to extend the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts to a European level.

By drawing on the expertise of organisations involved in their specific local communities, the Foundation hopes the initiative has a far-reaching impact, successfully identifying and classifying endangered crafts across Europe. In turn, this facilitates the mapping of European crafts considered to be at risk of disappearing.


Red List 2019 in the press

TelegraphFollowing the launch of the Red List of Endangered Crafts 2019 edition, the story was picked up across a range of print and broadcast media.

The Daily Mail ran with a double-page spread entitled  ‘Save our skills’, with the its online edition opting for ‘Holding on to Britain’s heritage’.

The Express featured ‘Ancient crafts under threat as vital skills not passed on’ and it was also reported on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme and BBC Alba.

Magazines including Country Life, Homes & Antiques and the Countryman also covered the story, with Reclaim magazine producing a special 16-page supplement on at-risk heritage crafts.

Here’s a selection of the coverage:

Save our SkillsThe New York Times
‘Just How Endangered Is Watchmaking?’
20 Feb 2019

Epoch Times
‘Holding On to Heritage Crafts’
20 Feb 2019

Reclaim magazine
‘British Heritage Crafts’ (16 page supplement)
March 2019 edition

The Countryman
‘Heritage Crafts Conservation’, pp. 40-44
March 2019 edition

Homes and Antiques magazine
‘The art of survival’, pp. 130-135
April 2019 edition

Mail Online
‘Holding on to Britain’s heritage’
8 March 2019

Daily Mail
‘Save our skills!’ pp. 36-37
9 March 2019

Daily Express
‘Ancient crafts under threat as vital skills not passed on’, pp. 20-21
9 March 2019

Daily Telegraph
‘Last in Line’, p.11
9 March 2019

BBC Radio 4 Today (from 1.49:24)
9 March 2019

Daily Mirror
’36 old crafts set to vanish’, p. 33
9 March 2019

The Herald
‘Dozens of ancient crafts are now listed as dying arts’, p. 10
9 March 2019

Daily Record
‘Extinction threat to UK crafts’, p. 34
9 March 2019

Country Life
‘On the danger list’
13 March 2019

BBC Alba
An Là (News) (from 24:18)
14 March 2019