Currently viable crafts


Fender making


The making of rope fenders for boats, with a central core and a knotted cover.


Status Currently viable (see ‘Other information’ for further details)
Craft category Textile; Plant fibre
Historic area of significance
Area currently practised
Origin in the UK
Current no. of professionals (main income)
Current no. of professionals (sideline to main income)
Current no. of trainees
Current total no. serious amateur makers
Current total no. of leisure makers
Minimum no. of craftspeople required



There are two types of fender making, the main differences being in the patterns of the fenders:

  • fenders for narrow boats and the inland waterways – the market is healthy and there are enough craftspeople, but not so many that there isn’t enough work to go round.
  • fenders for maritime boats – there are fewer people making maritime fenders, but the skills are essentially the same.

There are two main markets for rope fenders:

  • owner-boaters
  • hire fleet boats




Local forms




Issues affecting the viability of the craft


Support organisations


Craftspeople currently known

Eric Johns retired in 2017.


Other information

Status: Fender making is considered to be vulnerable but safe. While the numbers are relatively small, there are enough people doing it and making a living from it, and enough of a market for it to be healthy. While craftspeople may not be in their 20s, not everyone is over the age of 60.