Where: Mill Marsh Park, Bovey Tracey, Devon, TQ13 9AL
When: 9 to 11 June 2023, 10am to 5pm
Join us at Craft Festival in Bovey Tracey this June for a celebration of the practitioners of endangered crafts featured on the Red List of Endangered Crafts 2023 edition. Craft Festival is one of the most prestigious and much loved craft events in the UK. Over 200 of the UK’s finest makers will be exhibiting and this year’s programme is brimming with workshops for all ages, demonstrations, children’s activities and entertainment, street theatre, festival food and live music.
Our ‘Yurt of Endangered Crafts’ in 2019 was a huge success and we are back bigger and better than before with a ‘Marquee of Endangered Crafts’ to mark the recent launch of the 2023 edition. Come and meet our demonstrators and chat to them about how they are keeping their respective crafts alive!
- Anna Rennie, maille making
- Catherine Ade, lithography
- Coates Willow, basketwork furniture making
- Danni Bradford, reverse glass
- Dave French and Sarah Ready, withy pot making
- Hugh Dunford Wood, wallpaper making
- Katie B Morgan, fairground art
- Paula Carnell, bee skeps
- Rachel O’Connell, marbling
- Robert Ely, ribbon making
- Two Rivers, paper making
Buy your tickets here
Heritage Crafts members receive a 10% discount on tickets – contact us for the discount code
by Mary Lewis, Heritage Crafts Endangered Crafts Manager
When Heritage Crafts published the first edition of the Red List of Endangered Crafts back in 2017, the hope was that by repeating the research on a two-yearly basis, over time the changes would become less about improving the accuracy of the data, and more about reflecting real-world change… for good or for bad. It is only with this fourth edition (the second to be carried out with the generous support of the Pilgrim Trust), that we begin to see this hope come to fruition.
Six years in, we are able to point much more accurately to concrete examples of crafts that have fared better or worse since the research started, and even attribute some of the positive changes to the influence of the Red List itself. For example, with the publication of the last edition it became apparent that tinsmithing was a clear contender for the most endangered craft in the UK, with just one or two skilled craftspeople working irregularly, if at all.
We were able to award one of our Endangered Crafts Fund grants, with match funding from the Worshipful Company of Tin Plate Workers Alias Wire Workers, to run two week-long masterclasses at The Museum of Making in Derby. As a result, we now have several metalworking practitioners incorporating these skills into their businesses and continuing their own development within the craft; not enough to remove it from the critically endangered category altogether, but enough to prevent the extinction we feared.
Sadly the changes are by no means all positive. The cumulative effect of COVID-19, Brexit, the energy crisis sparked by the war in Ukraine, and the ensuing financial troubles have all had a brutal impact on many crafts businesses already struggling to make ends meet. I have spoken to so many craftspeople who are having to make heartbreaking decisions between buying in materials, keeping their workshops powered, and paying themselves even a minimum wage. This is all on top of the pre-existing structural issues such as the lack of training routes and government financial support for training.
We have always talked about the cultural loss that is borne every time a craft is lost, but over the last few years we have begun to notice another phenomenon. We increasingly see how crafts operate with a degree of inter-dependence. They form a complex ecosystem, with associated skills, supply chains and economies of scale that come with the level of specialisation you used to see in cities like Sheffield, Birmingham and Stoke. When one business closes, or one craft becomes extinct, it can have a knock-on effect on other allied crafts. The fear is that if we continue to witness this haemorrhaging of skills we may soon get to a tipping point, beyond which the collapse of heritage crafts in the UK accelerates exponentially.
The updated methodology we have developed for this edition has given me immense pleasure in allowing us to include a new cohort of culturally-significant crafts that would previously have been excluded (such as vardo art and living waggon crafts) and to better serve previous entries such as Shetland lace knitting. This will provide a robust basis upon which to consider a greater number of migrant and diaspora crafts for 2025.
As always, the Red List is an evolving process and we rely on craftspeople and experts to let us know of any omissions and changes that need to be addressed. Once again, a huge thank you to the hundreds of people who assisted with the research collation for this edition of the Red List, without whom this project would not be possible.
Zoë Watson, trainee kiltmaker. Photo by Nikki Laird.
A kiltmaker, a clockmaker and a typefounder are among the recipients of the latest round of grants awarded to help safeguard some of the UK’s most endangered craft skills.
Heritage Crafts, which published the third edition of its groundbreaking Red List of Endangered Crafts last year, has awarded a further six 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 Endangered Crafts Fund has been offered with support from the Dulverton Trust, with further support from the Pilgrim Trust, the Sussex Heritage Trust and the Swire Charitable Trust. The six successful recipients are:
- Katie Beard, from Gloucestershire, to apprentice to type founder Stanley Lane, to safeguard the history and craft of metal type manufacture and letterpress book printing.
- Hugh Dunford-Wood, from Dorset, to create short films to support the teaching of the craft of hand-blocked wallpaper making throughout the UK and beyond.
- Scott Jeffrey, from Hampshire, to fund the setup of wheel and pinion cutting in his clockmaking workshop, and offer wheels and pinions to the trade.
- Anna Rennie, from Cornwall, to apprentice to master maille maker Nick Checksfield, to learn how to restore and preserve original maille, and to become the first female professional maille maker.
- Karl Schmidt, from the United States, to reintroduce the critically endangered craft of tinsmithing to the UK through a specialist tinsmithing masterclass.
- Zoë Watson, from Perthshire, to train as a professional kiltmaker at the Kiltmakery in Edinburgh, after doing an introductory course as a 16-year-old student.
Hugh Dunford-Wood, wallpaper maker. Photo by Derek Reay.
These six projects follow 35 awarded in previous rounds, covering endangered crafts such as scissor making, sail making, damask weaving, boot tree making, neon bending, and concertina making, amongst others.
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.
HCA Endangered Crafts Manager Mary Lewis 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.”
Since 2019, the Endangered Crafts Fund has been funded through generous donations from organisations including the Pilgrim Trust, the Dulverton Trust, the Sussex Heritage Trust, the Swire Charitable Trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Benefact Trust, and the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund, as well as individuals who have donated sums from £5 right up to several thousands of pounds.
Heritage Crafts continues to seek further donations to save even more of Britain’s most endangered crafts from oblivion. Donations are welcome at any time – for more information visit www.heritagecrafts.org.uk/ecf.
21 to 26 March 2022 marked the inaugural #EndangeredCraftWeek, an effort by Heritage Crafts and partner The Prince’s Foundation to shine a light on the urgent need to preserve traditional craft skills.
Over the course of the week we profiled five craft businesses that involve skills featured in the Heritage Crafts Red List of Endangered Crafts.
HRH The Prince of Wales is President of Heritage Crafts and of The Prince’s Foundation. Heritage Crafts was set up in 2009 to support and safeguard traditional craft skills in the UK. Every year we award the President’s Award for Endangered Crafts to one of the nation’s most skilled practitioners, with a £3,000 bursary to invest in ensuring that their craft remains viable.
Applications for the President’s Award for Endangered Crafts are open until 29 April. To find out more visit https://heritagecrafts.org.uk/presidentsaward.
Monday it was the turn of York Handmade, based in Alne just North of York, founded in 1988 and operating on a site where bricks have been made since the 1930s. The company can make bricks of all shapes and sizes in a variety of colours and textures to match existing buildings. They have manufactured bricks for several award-winning heritage projects, conserving the glory of these buildings for generations to come.
The company created 47,000 Dumfries Blend bricks for The Queen Elizabeth II Walled Garden at Dumfries House, headquarters of The Prince’s Foundation. The restoration project won the Best Outdoor Space award in the Brick Awards, the Oscars of the brick industry, for its “magnificent achievement” in restoring the walled garden to its former glory.
It is estimated there are fewer than 20 professional makers of handmade bricks remaining in the UK. Currently there is a healthy demand for the work, but with such a small workforce and fluctuations in supply and demand can have significant effects.
Tuesday’s focus of #EndangeredCraftWeek was Kate Brett of Payhembury Papers, who has made traditional marbled papers by hand since 1982. Kate, based in Perthshire, specialises in reproducing traditional patterns by floating water-based paints on a size made from carragheen moss.
Marbling began to develop slowly in Britain in the second half of the eighteenth century. Though listed as an endangered craft today, interest in marbling is steadily increasing as a result of social media and a growing appreciation of the traditional technique as opposed to cheaper digital reproductions.
Photo by Kristin Perers
AS Handover Ltd
The spotlight on Wednesday fell on AS Handover Ltd, who hand make professional quality brushes at their workshop in Welwyn Garden City.
Established over 60 years ago, their wide range of products are used by the country’s finest artists and craftspeople in museums, film studios, stately homes and the Houses of Parliament. Their customers range from independent artists, signwriters and decorators through to the royal household at Buckingham Palace.
Brushmaking is highly skilled and the training period is long. However, brush manufacturers, particularly those making fine artists’ brushes, are reporting high demand and that their businesses are growing, so there is hope that this craft will be off the Red List before too long.
Photo by Jackson’s Art
Meet Graeme Bone, maker of handsewn kilts from Auchinleck in East Ayrshire and graduate of The Prince’s Foundation’s Future Textiles and Modern Artisan training programmes. Graeme, who featured in our Endangered Craft Week series on Thursday, has become a flagbearer for traditional kilt-making and handcrafted menswear. He previously worked in the steel industry, but left his job to pursue his passion for garment design and manufacture.
Kiltmaking was added to the Red List in 2021. Most kilts are still bought from kilt retailers, not directly from the skilled craftspeople, who often work behind the scenes on a piece rate, underpaid for the work that they do. The kiltmaker as a craftsperson has been largely invisible, but Graeme and his contemporaries are working hard to remedy that.
Rounding off our inaugural #EndangeredCraftWeek was Rebecca Struthers, a traditional watchmaker based in Birmingham and current holder of the Heritage Crafts President’s Award for Endangered Crafts.
Rebecca uses traditional methods, materials and techniques in the restoration of vintage and antique watches as well as the production of her own. She is the first, and currently only, watchmaker in the UK to earn a PhD in horology.
There are only a small handful of businesses still practising traditional watchmaking in the UK today, with fewer than 20 traditional makers earning a living from making as opposed to repair and restoration. It is now virtually impossible to create every component of a watch in the UK due to a shortage of allied craft businesses, including spring-making and jewel-making.
Photos by Andy Pilsbury
Craig and Rebecca Struthers. Photo by Richard Ivey.
Birmingham-based watchmaker Rebecca Struthers has won the 2021 HCA President’s Award for Endangered Crafts. The prestigious award, and £3,000 bursary, was initiated by Heritage Crafts Association President HRH The Prince of Wales.
The HCA was set up 11 years ago as a national charity to support and safeguard heritage crafts skills, and has become well known for its Red List of Endangered Crafts, the first research of its kind to rank traditional crafts in the UK by the likelihood they would survive the next generation.
The President’s Award trophy was presented to Dr Struthers at a special presentation on Friday 10 September 2021, hosted by The Prince’s Foundation, one of the country’s major providers of training in traditional building skills. The Prince of Wales was in attendance at the presentation, which also saw a trophy awarded to 2020 winners, Paul Jacobs and Jonathan Reid from Ernest Wright Scissors, whose presentation was unable to proceed last year due to COVID restrictions.
HCA President’s Award
Between 1630 and 1890, England was the centre of global watchmaking, home to many of the world’s most celebrated watchmakers. By 1793, twenty thousand London watchmakers were part of the city’s population of one million inhabitants, representing around one fiftieth of the population. Today watchmaking is listed as critically endangered on the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts.
Dr Rebecca Struthers is Director and watchmaker of a traditional watchmaking workshop and studio in Birmingham alongside husband and fellow master watchmaker Craig. They use traditional methods, materials and techniques in the restoration of vintage and antique watches as well as the production of her own timepieces. She is the first, and currently only, watchmaker in the UK to earn a PhD in horology.
Award winners with HRH The Prince of Wales. Photo by Richard Ivey.
Dr Struthers is a Fellow of the British Horological Institute and Royal Society of Arts, a Trustee of the Museum of Timekeeping in Newark, and a Jury Member of the Academy, Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. She has received over a dozen awards over the years for her craft, design, entrepreneurship and research, and her work has appeared in a range of media including the BBC, New York Times and Wall Street Journal. She is currently writing a non-fiction book for Hodder & Stoughton on the history of time, told through watches, and the way in which they have influenced societies and cultures around the world.
Dr Struthers plans to use the prize to create a free-to-use educational website for anyone with an interest in learning the art of watchmaking. It would list training opportunities and facilities, and allow people to share projects they are currently working on and seek advice and feedback from a watchmaking community. It would also share useful technical information and charts, articles, a reference library and short videos on her own techniques for others to learn from.
Winner Dr Rebecca Struthers said:
“As independent makers the high costs of training a full-time apprentice means that even if it were possible, the apprentice’s pay would be so low that it would be prohibitive to people from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. The President’s Award has provided us with the foundation to start something we hope will help to break down these boundaries and allow us to share what we do for free, in a manageable way for us. To have such a prestigious beginning for this project is an invaluable start!”
HCA Chair Patricia Lovett MBE said:
“Many people know HRH The Prince of Wales as being a long-time supporter and champion of traditional craft skills, and his passion is all too evident through initiatives such as the HCA President’s Award and The Prince’s Foundation. Dr Struthers and Ernest Wright Scissors are immensely deserving winners and we know that in their hands the prizes will provide a massive boost to the outlook of these critically endangered crafts.”
Jonathan Reid and Paul Jacobs from Ernest Wright Scissors. Photo by Richard Ivey.
2020 winner Ernest Wright scissor makers was founded in 1902 and reflects everything Sheffield has become famous for – highly skilled craftspeople making supreme quality products.
Following a tragedy in 2018, the company went into receivership and the critically endangered craft of scissor making was on the verge of disappearing from Sheffield. Paul Jacobs and Jan Bart Fanoy took action and bought the company, re-hired the remaining master putter-togetherers, Cliff Denton and Eric Stones, and took on several ‘putters’ in training. The factory is now back in action, with the prize used to repair machinery so that their putter-in-training can learn the craft from Cliff and Eric.
Click here to see details of this year’s finalists, including hat plaiter Veronica Main and wallpaper maker Hugh Dunford-Wood.
Click here to read more about the President’s Award trophies.