26 Apr. 1977|
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Before discussing the current Young Turners Training Programme it has to be understood why there is an urgent need to encourage young people into the craft. The outcome for the craft was clear, there were now three main areas of turning, the automatic trade, this was where automatic and semi-automatic lathes were used in a stall type of situation, they supplied all sorts of turnings from table, chair, bed legs, balustrades, newel posts, buns, knobs, handles and dowels, the list is endless, to large furniture makers, supermarkets and hardware stores, most of the automatic machine operators were redundant professional plain turners.
The second area was more fragmented where more professional turners became self employed and had to compete for high quality production work, spindle work, bowls and high end craft work, these turners also sold their work at large fairs, week-end fairs and markets, they worked mostly from smaller well equipped workshops.
The third and last area was where some professional and amateur turners alike started a new and current trend, producing small production runs, supplying shops, galleries with craft work and larger stores with high end turned goods of all descriptions.
In 1992 I started a private wood turning group in Chalfont St.Peter, Buckinghamshire, at this time I set up 4 lathes for private tuition, interest in the craft seemed to be increasing but there was still only a trickle of young people who showed some interest in the craft, I would also demonstrate in schools. At one point I had hoped that the RPT (Register of Professional Turners) would get more heavily involved in sponsoring and supporting a Programme for Young Turners, following a personal presentation to the RPT where I warned of a crisis within the craft for the lack of interest from young people, I expected some follow up and more discussion on this matter.
During one of my club meetings we were discussing the possibility of the programme when one of our members Reg Hawthorn future Chairman of the AWGB suggested we may also get the AWGB involved, I personally saw this as an ideal opportunity, this suggestion was exactly what we needed, the two main bodies in woodturning to get together and support a permanent programme.
Up to this point the programme at Grately had been sponsored and supported by my friends within the Craft.
Another initiative by Reg Hawthorn past Chairman of the AWGB was to approach the Boy Scouts movement and have approved within one of their badges wood turning as a craft achievement. It appeared obvious to me that the craft could only expand through a Youth Training Programme or gifted amateurs. But most of all the members of the TC who continue to support the Craft in personally in their own time by visiting the main wood turning events and venues throughout the UK. Following the death of Alan Mitchell several members of the Turners Company, in particular members of the Court, Peter Ellis, (My Sponsor) Rob Lucas, Penrose Halsham, Peter Gibson and several others who were very supportive of the craft and saw a Youth Training Programme as part of the way forward in promoting and expanding the Craft.
I always considered myself very fortunate to have been introduced to the Craft at school, it is a great pity there are very few wood lathes in schools to-day, it is a tragedy that very few children even know what wood turning is, yet alone some parents. Also new oil finish product, Treatex which is water and alcohol proof and is foodsafe.All Hamlet turning tools are supplied at 20% discount with postage at cost. He has a gallery of turnings and carvings and supplies timber by mail order anywhere in the UK.