HCA – Endangered Crafts

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November 2019

The Heritage Craft Association (HCA) Red List

The HCA Red List of endangered crafts is a record of traditional crafts and trades practices carried out in the United Kingdom that are currently at risk. Where skills, knowledge, equipment and training is not sustainable in terms of passing on the ability for progressing generations to be able to carry out the different craft practices.

The original HCA listings (taking two years to compile) was first published in May 2017 with financial support from The Radcliffe Trust. The inventory evaluated 169 different crafts. The second edition, published two years later listed a further 43 evaluated crafts with the critically endangered list increasing to 36 different crafts.

Letterpress printing has been confirmed to be one of the endangered crafts. Studio B is one of a network of UK letterpress printing studios helping to maintain printing’s heritage and with support from the Heritage Crafts Association will continue.

If you have or know of any documentation, tools or printing equipment which otherwise would be disregarded please get in contact as (even though our studio is not very large) we can always make space for the relics of the printing industry.

Contact Carl by email at: carlmiddleton@neatdesign.org

or telephone Carl on Taunton: 01823 401 302.

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The HCA Red List was influenced by UNESCO’s work on the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage throughout Europe. A previous analysis of the heritage craft sector (carried out in 2012 by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) reviewed the contribution of craft skills to the UK economy. Five years later financial, cultural and economic environments have changed considerably and an aging population of artisan crafts people are a little older.

The new report identifies a heritage craft as ‘a practice which employs manual dexterity and skill and an understanding of traditional materials, design and techniques, and which has been practiced for two or more successive generations’. It summarizes some of the reasons for the decline in the UK including the difficulties in recruiting apprentices, increased age of the artisan workforce and the high price for articles made by hand impacting on their commercial viability.

Greta Bertram, who worked on the original report, identified one of the principle aims of the report was to bring pressure upon the UK government to help preserve the crafts for the future, stating: “We would like to see the government recognize the importance of traditional craft skills as part of our cultural heritage, and take action to ensure they are passed on to the next generation.”

Whilst heritage conservation as gained widespread popularity over the past century in preserving buildings and architecture for the enjoyment of future generations, the HCA celebrates craft skills as part of UK Cultural Heritage and hopes their documentation will help to inform future policy decisions on where to invest available funding.

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© Carl Middleton – 2020

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