Until the 1960’s many wooden ladders were made in the UK, one of the largest makers being John Ward and Son Ladder Makers, where Stanley learnt his craft. Overnight with the introduction of aluminium ladders the wooden ladder making trade died. There was demand for the wooden type but it was cheaper for these customers to purchase in the second hand market – a supply that was plentiful with so many users converting to aluminium.
Fifty years later there is still demand for wooden ladders, from historic buildings, open air museums and heritage craftspeople such as thatchers. However, the supply has now dried up as the old ones reach the end of their lifespan and no new ones have been made. The issue was highlighted last year when BBC TV wished to film a ladder maker for their Edwardian Farm program but none were to be found. At the time we launched this appeal, we knew of no practising ladder makers in the UK (but read more below).
But, the knowledge and experience still remains with at least one man, and he is willing to help. In 2014 HCA will organise a two day workshop so Stanley can pass on his skills to professional woodworkers. The workshop will be filmed and an instructional film produced so that these rare skills can be disseminated further via the internet. Stanley has also produced a series of paintings and written on the subject which we would publish to further preserve the craft for the future.
We are aware of other crafts which need support, and welcome donations to continue this work.