The Radcliffe Red List of Endangered Crafts


Piano making


The making of pianos.


Status Critically endangered
Craft category Instruments
Historic area of significance
Area currently practised Yorkshire
Origin in the UK
Current no. of professionals (main income) 6-10 in one business (see ‘Craftspeople currently known’ for further details)
Current no. of professionals (sideline to main income)
Current no. of trainees 1
Current total no. serious amateur makers
Current total no. of leisure makers
Minimum no. of craftspeople required



There is a tradition of piano making in Britain which stretches back over 200 years. Many of history’s greatest composers owned and played British pianos: Chopin, Liszt, J C  Bach among many others. In the ‘golden age of piano making’ Britain boasted 360 piano makers at the turn of the century which supplied the entire globe. Sadly, this great industry has now all but disappeared from our shores.

Notably in April 2003 The British Piano Manufacturing Co. and in October 2009 Kemble Pianos closed their gates for the last time. Cavendish Pianos, based in Yorkshire, are resurrecting the lost art of piano making in Britain through the creation of a Craftsman’s Co-operative. Thus, rather than being produced in one factory, Cavendish Pianos are made by a series of small businesses each with their own speciality, including piano builders, action specialists, stringers, cabinet-makers, polishers, and piano tuners.




Local forms




Issues affecting the viability of the craft


Support organisations

Craftspeople currently known

  • Cavendish Pianos – based in Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire. 8 craftspeople, including three technicians, a piano designer, a cabinet maker, a furniture maker, a string maker and one apprentice (the piano retailer Yorkshire Pianos Ltd. is home to the manufacturing premises of Cavendish Pianos).


Other information