The HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts


South Downs trug making


The making of traditional handmade garden baskets known as South Down trugs from birch plywood for the body and coppiced sweet chestnut for the frame (see also Sussex trug making).


Status Endangered
Craft category Wood
Historic area of significance East Sussex
Area currently practised East Sussex
Origin in the UK 1960s
Current no. of professionals (main income) 5
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



The design of the South Down trug is based on the traditional Sussex trug (see separate entry), but is made of birch plywood instead of cleft willow. It was developed in the 1960s by Lawrence and Dudley Hide.





Local forms






Issues affecting the viability of the craft

  • Overseas competition: Chinese-made imitations of the South Down trug have flooded the world market, thus reducing the number of UK South Down trugs made and sold.


Support organisations


Craftspeople currently known

  • Robin Tuppen at the Cuckmere Trug Company (incorporating Thomas Smith’s Trug Shop) – based in Magham Down, Hailsham. As of February 2017 there are five trug makers, including three apprentices aged 21 and under. As well as making the South Down trug they also make the traditional Sussex trug (see separate entry).
    Kevin Skinner at Trug Makers – based in Hailsham.


Other information

Robin Tuppen of Cuckmere Trugs has formed a not-for-profit limited company to create a Sussex Trug Heritage Centre, as a centre of excellence for the making of both the Sussex trug and the South Down trug and to train young people to become craftsmen trug makers.