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According to the Association of Sussex Trug Basket Makers, they are the “last skilled trug makers” – and very likely to be so too if they don’t start teaching apprentices for when they finish making Trugs. This is insulting to the lads who work for Cuckmere Trug Company/Thomas Smith’s Trug Shop as they are highly skilled, having gone through, or are in the process of going through, a formal apprenticeship scheme. They work hard and produce highly skilled pieces of work which our customers praise very often – see the testimonials section of our website. We also have a formal career path through which an apprentice and craftsman may follow, leading up to Master Trug Maker.

To become a Craftsman Trug Maker our staff have to follow a three year apprenticeship scheme and sit a final practical examination before graduating to Craftsman. He/she then will lead an apprentice through their apprenticeship before they, themselves, become a Senior Craftsman. After having guided two apprentices through their term then that Craftsman will eventually become a Master Trug Maker. He or she won’t become such without the relevant skills and teaching knowledge.

Already, over the past seven years, we have produced two Craftsmen, one of which is Senior Craftsman. and have an apprentice learning our skills right now, with another two apprentices expected to join us in 2018. We also have the services of a Master Trug Maker who was taught in our workshops and comes back to help teach and run courses.

Of the six people engaged in our Industry outside of my own company two have learned how to make Trugs in my old workshop in Herstmonceux………… of them taught two more people but, since then, to my knowledge, no new Truggers have been brought along by the members of this association over the past 20 years! I might be wrong of course, in which case, where are they? And what happened to the Chelsea Revival Trug. launched at Chelsea Flower Show two years ago, in order to produce money to fund an apprenticeship scheme “fit for purpose”? Answers on a postcard.

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