The Radcliffe Red List of Endangered Crafts

 

Coppersmithing (stills)

 

The making, installation, maintenance and replacement of pot stills, condensers and spirit safes for the distillery industry. See the separate entry for coppersmithing (objects).

 

Status Currently viable
Craft category  Metal
Historic area of significance
Area currently practised
Origin in the UK
Minimum no. of craftspeople required
Current no. of trainees  11-20 (see ‘Other information’ for further details)
Current no. of skilled craftspeople  51-100
Current total no. of craftspeople  51-100

 

History

 

Techniques

Skills include hammering and shaping the copper, welding, and cutting using a water jet cutting machine.

 

Local forms

 

Sub-crafts

 

Issues affecting the viability of the craft

  • Skills issues: Still making is a specialised craft and requires training from scratch.
  • Market issues: The global rise in the popularity of whisky means there is increased demand for coppersmiths to make, repair and replace stills.

 

Support organisations

 

Craftspeople currently known

  • The Balvenie – employ 1 coppersmith.
  • Abercrombie Coppersmiths at Alloa – employ 43 coppersmiths. Takes on two apprentice coppersmiths and engineers a year.
  • Forsyths – employ 15 coppersmiths. Takes on three trainees per year for a five-year apprenticeship.

 

Other information

Number of trainees: Abercrombie Coppersmiths take on on two apprentice coppersmiths and engineers a year, and Forsyths take on three trainees per year for a five-year apprenticeship. An apprenticeship includes an engineering course at a Further Education College, followed by four years in the workshop working alongside trained coppersmiths. After completing the apprenticeship it takes another five years or so to fully master the craft.

 

References