Eight of Britain's most endangered professions: Scissor-makers, denim manufacturers and beer barrel crafters

Jessica Morris
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Wooden beer barrel making is a dying craft (Source: Getty)

Britain's fast-dying craft industry risks taking a whole number of valuable and interesting skills with it, according to the Heritage Crafts Association.

This is because the skills needed to produce beautifully intricate crafted goods rests in the hands of an ageing population and could be extinct in the next five years.

In conjunction with the launch of a photography competition to capture craft-making with Furniture Village, the association has compiled a list of the United Kingdom's most endangered professions.

Pole lathe bowl turner

Robin Wood from Derbyshire has been making wooden bowls, plates and stools using a simple foot powered lathe for the last 20 years. According to the Heritage Crafts Association, he is the last full-time pole lathe bowl turner in the UK.

Denim manufacturer

David and Clare Hieatt who operate from their factory in Pembrokeshire are the country's last denim makers. The company's website says the town "stopped making jeans after 30 years ... then one day started making them again".

Craftsperson of oak swills baskets

Owen Jones from the Lake District is the last manufacturer of oak swills baskets in Britain, the Heritage Crafts Association said. Oak swills are woven baskets which are made out of softened oak wood and have been around for centuries. The industry witnessed a rapid decline after the second world war thanks to mechanisation and other technologies.

Master Cooper of wooden beer barrels

Alastair Simms from Yorkshire is apparently the last Master Cooper of wooden beer barrels in the UK.

Manufacturer of cream handled cutlery

Chimo Holdings is the last company to make cream handled cutlery in the whole of the country, the British Heritage Association said. The Yorkshire-based company makes the kind of authentic bone-handled utensils which would have been found on British tables in years gone past.

Master clog maker

British clogs first became popular during the industrial revolution when workers needed steady, durable footwear. They were traditionally associated with Lancashire but worn all over the country. Today, Britain's last craft clog maker Jeremy Atkinson, who does not use a machine to cut the soles, now works from Herefordshire.


Ernest Wright and Son in Sheffield is one of the last two businesses who put scissors together by hand left in the United Kingdom. Anyone able to master the niche craft is awarded the title of ‘Master Scissor Putter-togetherer’.

The company's website says "the Wright family have been involved in the boring, hardening and tempering of scissors since at least 1860." Since then, the once stellar industry has suffered at the hands of steel globalisation and mechanisation.

Trug shop

The Truggery in Sussex is the world's oldest trug shop and one of three left in the United Kingdom. A trug is a light but sturdy boat-shaped basket which is made out of willow and sweet chestnut.

The traditional art of trug-making has been around in Sussex for at least 200 years. Modern farming methods and plastic meant that the craft nearly died out but the company says today's high demand means it must limit the range of shapes and sizes available.

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