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Nine more grants to help save endangered crafts

A thatching spar maker, a pigment maker, and a boatbuilder are among the recipients of a new round of grants to help safeguard some of the UK’s most endangered craft skills.

Andy BashamHeritage Crafts has awarded the grants through its Endangered Crafts Fund, which was launched in 2019 to increase the likelihood of at-risk craft skills surviving into the next generation. Six of this round’s grants are funded by the Sussex Heritage Trust, the Ashley Family Foundation for Wales, and the Essex Community Foundation and were ring fenced for crafts practitioners within those areas.

In May this year Heritage Crafts published the fourth edition of its groundbreaking Red List of Endangered Crafts, the first research of its kind to rank the UK’s traditional crafts by the likelihood that they will survive into the next generation. The report assessed 259 crafts to ascertain those which are at greatest risk of disappearing, of which 84 were classified as ‘endangered’ and a further 62 as ‘critically endangered’.

The nine successful recipients are:

  • Andy Basham from Essex, for himself and others to learn to make thatching spars from the last spar maker in East Anglia, and equip himself for production from his hazel coppice.
  • Will Holland from Carmarthenshire, to develop his arrowsmithing skills and master the reproduction of historically forged arrowheads, and to teach the craft to others.
  • Charlotte Kenward from West Sussex, to train and equip herself to offer traditional reverse gilded house numbers and signage to heritage properties.
  • Lucy MayesLucy Mayes from London, to purchase equipment to produce a range of innovative and sustainable pigments from processing construction waste.
  • Gail McGarva and the team at Building Futures Galloway, to equip a community workshop on the Solway Firth with tools needed to teach young people traditional wooden boatbuilding.
  • Rob Shaw and team, from North Yorkshire, to equip the new coach trimming workshop of Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway, offering a space to train more of their volunteers.
  • Travis Smith from Hampshire, to train in hand hewing of timber and apply his skills to the restoration and reconstruction of historical building and the construction of new ones.
  • Stephanie Turnbull from Newport, to trial the use of alternative types of limestone and other stone substrates for lithographic printing, and to publish her findings.
  • Jessie Watson-Brown, Matthew Bailey and Jamey Rhind-Tutt from Devon, to equip a new tannery to produce traditional bark-tanned leather from wild deer skins.

Gail McGarvaThese nine projects follow 57 others awarded in previous rounds, covering endangered crafts such as coppersmithing, Highland thatching, sailmaking and many more. Previous funders have included the Radcliffe Trust, the Pilgrim Trust, the Dulverton Trust, the Swire Charitable Trust and others, as well as individuals who have donated sums from £5 right up to several thousands of pounds.

As usual the fund was oversubscribed, and Heritage Crafts hopes to work with many of the unsuccessful candidates to identify other funding and support opportunities.

Mary Lewis, Heritage Crafts Endangered Crafts Manager, said:

“The survival of endangered craft skills relies on the people who make a positive choice to learn, make and teach these crafts. These projects will provide future generations with opportunities that they might not otherwise have, to become productive and healthy members of our shared craft community and to safeguard this important part of our national heritage.”

View the full list of the 66 grants awarded to date 

Arrowsmithing

The Radcliffe Red List of Endangered Crafts

 

Arrowsmithing

 

The forging of metal arrowheads, usually in iron or steel.

 

Status Critically endangered
Historic area of significance UK
Area currently practised UK
Origin in the UK Iron Age
Current no. of professionals (main income) 2
Current no. of professionals (sideline to main income)
10-15
Current no. of trainees 0
Current total no. serious amateur makers
0
Current total no. of leisure makers

 

History

Arrowsmithing peaked in the Mediaeval period when the use of the English war bow was at its height, and declined along with the bow as a weapon of war once fire arms became dominant. The craft was revived in the twentieth century with the formation of re-enactment groups, and today these groups provide the market for the craft.

 

Techniques

Specialist forging techniques and tools are required for the forging of the heads.

 

Local forms

There are many variations in arrowheads, but they fall into two main groups: hunting and war.

 

Sub-crafts

n/a

Issues affecting the viability of the craft

  • Market issues: This is a very niche market and there is not enough demand to make a living from it.
  • Skills: The forging of simple bodkin arrowheads is within the capabilities of any good blacksmith but the forging of accurate arrowheads that are more complex requires specific skills over and above that of general blacksmithing
  • Overseas competition: there has been an increase in hobby arrowsmiths working overseas making arrowheads based on a few photos as compared to actual examples, and selling them for much less,  flooding the market with inaccurate products.

Support organisations

 

Craftspeople currently known

Other information

References