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).
|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)
|Current no. of trainees||1 Apprentice|
|Current total no. serious amateur makers
|Current total no. of leisure makers
|Minimum no. of craftspeople required|
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.
- 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
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.
- 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)
- ‘I’ll do it till I die: Rolling out the barrel with the last master cooper’, The Telegraph
- Kilby, Kenneth, (1977) The Village Cooper
- Kilby, Kenneth, The Cooper: a short history, unpublished manuscript
- Kilby, Kenneth, (1971) The Cooper and his Trade
- Kilby, Kenneth, (2004) Coopers and Coopering
- Gilding, Bob, The Journeymen Coopers of East London, History Workshop Pamphlets Number Four