On Saturday last week I attended an “Endangered Baskets Symposium” at the Museum of Rural Life at Reading University, organised by the Heritage Crafts Association and the Basketmakers’ Association, both of which I am a member.
Also present at the event was Anne Holden, the Prime Warden elect of the Worshipful Company of Basketmakers (of which I am also a member) which donates to the Basketmakers’ Association and helps with bursaries and charitable donations where appropriate.
The symposium took us through some of the British baskets, such as the Shetland Kishie used for collecting peat, which are no longer made because crofters do not use peat any more, these baskets were made of various materials on hand at the time. There are a great many types of basket now endangered or extinct. https://heritagecrafts.org.uk/redlist/categories-of-risk/
In the afternoon four working groups considered various aspects of how to deal with subjects such as training, apprenticeships, marketing and business support. Attendees will receive a copy of the report published by the HCA and notation of the suggestions made during the symposium by the various working groups. I look forward to reading these with great interest.
Our Sussex Trug Heritage Centre has also been looking at the possibility of having a recognised apprenticeship scheme but, because there are less that 16 companies in the industry, the government will not consider a pilot scheme. We have, however, our own apprentice training scheme and are working on improving that for the future.
Trug making is on the Red List as endangered, but not, as yet, critically endangered. I am pleased to see that at least one of my competitors has an apprentice in training. Currently we have two apprentices and will be seeking another next year. Over the next five years we hope to engage at least another four apprentices in an endeavour to re-populate the Sussex Trug Industry with new blood of various ages.
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