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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 

Coach trimming

The HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts

 

Coach trimming

 

The upholstery and fitting of automobile and carriage interiors in a range of materials.

This craft uses products derived from animals – please read our ethical sourcing statement.

 

Status Endangered
Historic area of significance Midlands
Area currently practised UK
Origin in the UK 17th century
Current no. of professionals (main income) 11-20  estimated
Current no. of professionals (sideline to main income)
Included in numbers above
Current no. of trainees Not known – there are around 500 students studying with the Association of Master Upholsterers who could potentially go on to be coach trimmers.
Current total no. serious amateur makers
1-5
Current total no. of leisure makers

 

History

Originally coach trimming involved upholstering the interiors of horse drawn carriages then, as the carriages gained motors and evolved into the motor car, so the trade followed suit.

Today coach trimming is used for vintage and modern classic cars.

Auto-trimming is the term used for contemporary car interiors and, although some materials such as leather and vinyl may be similar, the techniques used are different.

 

Techniques

  • Upholstery
    • Fluting, stuffed fluting
    • Deep buttoning
    • Use of traditional materials in stuffing such as cotton wadding, as opposed to foam
    • Fixings and fastenings – e.g. tacks and gimp pins rather than glues and staples.
  • Woodwork
  • Leatherwork

 

Local forms

n/a

 

Sub-crafts

Allied crafts:

 

Issues affecting the viability of the craft

  • Skills issues: There are a lack of training opportunities for traditional skills and the older generation not passing on skills or technique.
  • There is no main organisation or trade organisation.
  • There is no government recognition for the trade.

 

Support organisations

The Association of Master Upholsterers

 

Craftspeople currently known

Coach trimmers specialising in classic car interiors:

 

Other information

 

 

References

  • Taylor, Don, Automotive Upholstery Handbook
  • Mattson, Fred, Automotive Upholstery and Interior Restoration
  • Taylor, Don, and Mangus, Rod, Custom Auto Interiors
  • Caldwell, Bruce, Auto Upholstery & Interiors: A Do-it-yourself Basic Guide