Select Page

Seven more grants to help save endangered crafts

A coppersmith, a Highland thatcher and a trainee sailmaker are among the recipients of a new round of grants to help safeguard some of UK’s most endangered craft skills.

Scot AnSgeulaiche, Samantha Dennis and Nicholas Konradsen Heritage 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. Five of this round’s grants are funded by The Radcliffe Trust and were selected with special consideration of the impact of the energy crisis on our most vulnerable crafts.

In 2021 Heritage Crafts published the third 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 244 crafts to ascertain those which are at greatest risk of disappearing, of which four were classified as extinct, 74 as ‘endangered’ and a further 56 as ‘critically endangered’. A new edition will be published on 11 May 2023.

The seven successful recipients are:

  • Scot AnSgeulaiche from Perthshire, to train an apprentice in the craft of Highlands and Islands thatching and encourage the use of locally-grown thatching materials.
  • Birgit Frietman and Robyn Smith from London, to set up a hub for horn working in London and reduce their carbon footprint by completing more processes in-house.
  • James Slaven from Glasgow, to train in sailmaking with Mark Shiner and set up a workshop at the GalGael Trust making and repairing sails and repurposing old sailcloth.
  • Steve Hogarth from Derbyshire, to add the skills of leadworking and flint masonry to his steeplejack business, maintaining the usefulness of traditional buildings without the impact of scaffolding.
  • Samantha Dennis from Shetland, to catalogue and replicate historical coiled baskets of Shetland and create a market for small crofters to sell locally-grown oat straw.
  • John Wills from Northamptonshire, to set up a tinsmithing and coppersmithing workshop that will also provide teaching, using renewable charcoal to heat the traditional soldering coppers.
  • Nicholas Konradsen from Lincolnshire, to research and make Lincolnshire bagpipes in a new workshop with more energy-efficient equipment.

These seven projects follow 50 others awarded in previous rounds, covering endangered crafts such as clockmaking, tinsmithing, kiltmaking and many more. Along with The Radcliffe Trust, which has been the major funder in this round, other funders have included The Sussex Heritage 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 current energy crisis means that our craft skills are at more risk than ever before. We are delighted to be working in partnership with the Radcliffe Trust and other funders to address the specific challenges being faced by endangered crafts practitioners at this time.”

View the full list of the 57 grants awarded to date 

Nine new grants awarded to help save endangered crafts from extinction

Monica Cass. Photo copyright Katherine Mager.

Monica Cass weaving a ‘tau tray’ using skeined willow in Norfolk. Photo copyright Katherine Mager.

A chair seater, a concertina maker and a brick and tile maker are among the recipients of the latest round of grants awarded to help safeguard some of the UK’s most endangered craft skills.

The Heritage Crafts Association, which is due to publish the third edition of its groundbreaking HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts in May, has awarded a further nine grants from its Endangered Crafts Fund, which was launched in 2019 to increase the likelihood of endangered crafts surviving into the next generation.

This round of the HCA Endangered Crafts Fund has been offered with support from the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Dulverton Trust, the Sussex Heritage Trust, Allchurches Trust, the Radcliffe Trust and the Swire Charitable Trust. The nine successful recipients are:

  • Duncan Berry, from West Sussex, to buy tools to enable him to pass on his skills as a flint waller.
  • Ben Bosence, from East Sussex, to develop and make bricks and tiles from waste clay that has been excavated locally.
  • Monica Cass, from Norwich, to train a chair seat weaver in skeined willow techniques, and document the process.
  • Collette Davies, from Monmouth, to help revive the craft of lipwork straw basketry.
  • Tom Frith-Powell, from Cumbria, to develop a gelatine sized paper as part of his commercial handmade papermaking charity.
  • Bob Green, from Brighton, to buy tools to enable him to develop and pass on his skills as a flint waller.
  • Jake Middleton-Metcalf, from Buckinghamshire, to be trained in making the critical working components of the English system concertina.
  • Tony Millyard, from Northamptonshire, to pass on flute making skills and to develop a new model of flute.
  • Dominic Parrette, from East Sussex, to build shave horses to allow him to teach trainees how to make Sussex trug and Devon stave baskets.
A hand made Anglo-German Concertina by Jake Middleton-Metcalfe. Photo copyright Jake Middleton-Metcalfe.

A hand made Anglo-German Concertina by Jake Middleton-Metcalfe. Photo copyright Jake Middleton-Metcalfe.

These nine projects follow 18 awarded in previous rounds, covering endangered crafts such as scissor making, sail making, damask weaving, boot tree making, cockle basket making, folding knife making, neon bending, coracle making, fan making and swill basket making, coppersmithing, withy pot making, disappearing fore-edge painting, plane making and kishie basket making.

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

HCA Endangered Crafts Officer Mary Lewis said:

“The impact of COVID-19 in the last twelve months has only compounded the pressures on those at-risk craft skills that were already on the verge of being lost, but have so much to offer a post-COVID future, as productive and fulfilling ways to rebuild a sustainable economy. These projects will realise some of that potential.”

The Endangered Crafts Fund has been funded through generous donations from organisations including Garfield Weston Foundation, the Dulverton Trust, the Sussex Heritage Trust, Allchurches Trust, the Radcliffe Trust, as well as individuals who have donated sums from £5 right up to several thousands of pounds. The forthcoming 2021 edition of the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts is funded by the Pilgrim Trust.

The HCA continues to seek further donations to save even more of Britain’s most endangered crafts from oblivion. Donations are welcome at any time.

Honours for heritage craftspeople

Heritage crafts have received royal recognition and high honour with three craftspeople included in The Queen’s Birthday Honours Lists this year.

Wim VisscherVellum maker Wim Visscher has been awarded an MBE. Wim is owner of William Cowley, producers of hand-crafted parchment and vellum since 1870, and the last parchment and vellum makers left in the UK. Wim said:

It is a great honour and privilege to be recognised in this way. My father, grandfather and great grandfather, all parchment makers before me, would be amazed if they were here. I am particularly grateful to the Heritage Crafts Association for putting my name forward as a potential recipient for an honour of which I was entirely ignorant until now!

The Association do great work in supporting skilled craftsmen and women. They recognise the long-term environmental and economic benefits of historic crafts which make things that last and look good for life; inspiringly different to the products of our “throw away” society.

Felicity IronsRush worker Felicity Irons has been awarded a BEM. Owner of Rush Matters and supplier of  traditional rush flooring to the National Trust as well as creator of a wide range of contemporary work, Felicity has given new life to the ancient craft of rushweaving. Felicity said:

When I first read the letter from the Cabinet Office I thought it must be a hoax. I had to ask my Mum to read it several times for me. She had known about it for ages as she had been working with the Heritage Crafts Association on the nomination! I am just so stunned and still really trying to take it all in. I keep thinking why me; I just go to work every day. It is pretty emotional but wow, it’s amazing.

John Lord

Photo by Matthew Usher

A BEM has also been awarded to John Lord, master of the ancient craft of flint knapping.  He said:

I would like to thank the Heritage Crafts Association for putting my name forward for this National Honour. I accept this award only on behalf of all skilled flint knappers both past and present, and in particular on behalf of our ancient ancestors whose skills will never be equalled.

All three were nominated for their awards by the Heritage Crafts Association.  Vice Chair Patricia Lovett MBE, said:

This is tremendous recognition for the skills and expertise of traditional craftspeople. These honours show the very real value of heritage crafts to people’s lives today.

Flintknapping (objects)

Currently viable crafts

 

Flintknapping (objects)

 

The shaping of flint by percussive force or pressure from a hammerstone, billet or flaker, specifically to make objects such as stone tools, strikers for flintlock fire arms, or replica items. See the separate entry for flintknapping (masonry).

 

Status Currently viable
Historic area of significance UK
Area currently practised UK
Origin in the UK Palaeolithic

 

History

 

Techniques

 

Local forms

 

Sub-crafts

There are currently two types of flintknapping in the UK:

  • To make replicas of prehistoric objects such as axeheads and spearheads for use in museums, schools and archaeological research – perhaps about 5-6 people doing this professionally, and many more doing it in a non-professional capacity
  • To shape flint for use in masonry and wall faces – perhaps about 10 people doing this professionally

 

Issues affecting the viability of the craft

  • Flintknapping is an extremely challenging craft as flint is a very restrictive and inconsistent material. The difficulty lies in the skill – such as understanding the material, the correct angle to hit it and the probable outcome, and requires technique, accuracy and hand-eye co-ordination – rather than in the physicality.
  • Quality (rather than quantity) of the raw materials: There are very few sources of good quality flint in the UK – while there are a few quarries, none produce particularly good, reliable, consistent flint – although it is hoped that there will be a good quality source again in the next couple of years.
  • Market issues: it is likely that there will always be a market for prehistoric replica knappers, but that market is fairly saturated and can probably only support one or two more. There is a lot of competition for the best orders from prestigious museums or TV companies.
  • Lifestyle issues: have to travel a lot, which doesn’t suit everybody.
  • Quite a few people try the craft of making replica objects on day courses and many students learn/practise from someone else as part of their university research but it is not always clear if they will carry it on. There are no ‘apprentices’ learning the craft, although there might be one or two individuals who are learning seriously. There are no awarding bodies or certificates but it is not felt that this sort of infrastructure is needed and there is no one to deliver it.

 

Support organisations

 

Craftspeople currently known

 

Other information

Numbers of leisure makers: This is very difficult to estimate but there are a number of flintknapping courses and tutorials available. Flintknapping is a popular craft with reenactors and experimental archaeologists, and we we can probably surmise that there are a high number of leisure makers.

References

 

Flintknapping (masonry)

 

The Radcliffe Red List of Endangered Crafts

 

Flintknapping (masonry)

 

The shaping of flint by percussive force of a hammerstone or billet, specifically for masonry purposes, such as for building or facing walls, and flushwork decoration. See the separate entry for flintknapping (objects).

 

 

Status Endangered
Historic area of significance UK
Area currently practised UK

Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire,
Surrey, Berkshire,
Wiltshire, Dorset,
Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Sussex, Kent,
London, Hampshire

Origin in the UK Palaeolithic, Neolithic
Current no. of professionals (main income) 6-10
Current no. of professionals (sideline to main income)
11-20
Current no. of trainees 11-20
Current total no. serious amateur makers
21-50
Current total no. of leisure makers
11-20

 

History

Most masonry flintwork is for the repair of historic buildings, especially churches. This often involves reusing old flints, or visiting a pit to select the required flints. St Lawrence’s Church in Ipswich is quite rare in that it uses new flint.

Flint was the earliest industry from Neolithic period. Flint was being used as a building
material as early as the Roman times.

 

Techniques

  • Knapping
  • Laying flints as found

 

Local forms

Galleting, Flush work, Field flint, Shuttering, Laying to a line, Flint quoins, Squared and coursed, Random style, Chequered Pattern, Use of Chert, Puddingstone, Flint Grottos, Pressure Flaking and Cobbled

 

Sub-crafts

There are currently two types of flintknapping in the UK:

  • To make replicas of prehistoric objects such as axeheads and spearheads for use in museums, schools and archaeological research – perhaps about 5-6 people doing this professionally, and many more doing it in a non-professional capacity
  • To shape flint for use in masonry and wall faces – perhaps about 10 people doing this professionally
  • Producing Flint quoins which is highly skilled.
  • Knapping Flints to shape

The fixing of flint is also a specialist skill in itself.

 

Issues affecting the viability of the craft

  • Flintknapping is an extremely challenging craft as flint is a very restrictive and inconsistent material. The difficulty lies in the skill – such as understanding the material, the correct angle to hit it and the probable outcome, and requires technique, accuracy and hand-eye co-ordination – rather than in the physicality.
  • Quality (rather than quantity) of the raw materials: There are very few sources of good quality flint in the UK – while there are a few quarries, none produce particularly good, reliable, consistent flint – although it is hoped that there will be a good quality source again in the next couple of years.
  • Training issues: very little training in historic building crafts – most people go into the new-build sector.
  • Shortage of skills: Heritage buildings, especially churches, need heritage skills but very few people have the necessary experience as training is focused on the new-build sector. Because of the shortage of skills flint laying has been de-skilled by the creation of flint blocks which are concrete blocks with flints pressed into them. The quality and the aesthetics are not the same as a wall built free hand. This has created a means where any brick layer can produce flint by laying blocks. This is not the way forward but a short cut because of the lack of skills. There is a current fashion to clad contemporary new builds with flint.
  • Market issues: There have been developments with the demand for architectural flintwork on new properties recently, including properties that have used gauged flushwork and flint quoins.

 

Support organisations

 

Craftspeople currently known

Companies employing two or more makers

 

Other information

 

References