The Radcliffe Red List of Endangered Crafts

 

Coopering (non-spirits)

 

The making of wooden casks bound with metal hoops, for beer, cider, and wine, as well as non-functional casks. See the separate entry for coopering (spirits).

 

Status Endangered
Craft category Wood
Historic area of significance UK
Area currently practised England, mainly in Yorkshire
Origin in the UK 1st century AD
Current no. of professionals (main income) 5 National Cooperage Federation Annual Survey 2019
Current no. of professionals (sideline to main income)
1
Current no. of trainees 1 Apprentice
Current total no. serious amateur makers
Current total no. of leisure makers
Minimum no. of craftspeople required

 

History

Traditionally there were three types of coopering: dry coopering, white coopering, and wet coopering. The first was the least skilled, the last the most skilled. Within wet coopering, a distinction is made between coopering for beer and for spirits. Coopering for beer requires different skills because the casks must withstand the pressure of the fermenting beer.

 

Techniques

 

Local forms

  • Dry coopering which does not have to hold fluid
  • White cooperage which in general was done at a village level making household utilities
  • Wet cooperage which has to store fluids in sometimes under pressure and also sometimes for many years

 

Sub-crafts

 

Issues affecting the viability of the craft

The need for casks is entirely driven by market requirement. At the moment there have been no issued raised regarding material shortages or lack of tutor coopers, however there is uncertainty due to the UK exit of EU in 2021 which may impact the trade.

 

Support organisations

  • The Worshipful Company of Coopers
  • Incorporation of Coopers of Glasgow
  • The National Cooperage Federation (Trade Organisation of Employers of Coopers and arbiters of the Indentured Apprentice Cooper Programme)

 

Craftspeople currently known

  • Alistair Simms – independent cooper at Yorkshire Cooperage Services, Ripon, Yorkshire.
  • Jonathan Manby – Theakstons Brewery, Masham, Yorkshire.
  • David Paulter – Dylan Scrancher – Samuel Smith Brewery, Tadcaster, Yorkshire.
  • Mark Newton – Marstons Brewery, Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire.
  • Gary Hardy – part-time cooper at Marstons Brewery, Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire.(Not recorded in Annual Survey)

Euan Findley is in his final year of a four-year apprenticeship at Theakstons as of December 2019 (officially time-served 01/01/20)

Other information

 

References