The Worshipful Company of Turners

Supporting the Craft, City and Charity for over four hundred years

The Howe Committee promotes the craft of turning, on behalf of the Court. When I became Chairman in 2017, I was aware it was named after Fred Howe (1910-1982), but realised I knew little about him.

My trusty Company history tells me he was a former Coldstream Guardsman who helped rehabilitate wounded servicemen. Realising that turning would improve muscle coordination, he learned the craft and became an outstanding turner himself, helping to set up the Society of Ornamental Turners in 1948.

The Committee has been busy in the last twelve months. Here’s a flavour.

In June 2017, the Turners were one of over twenty Livery Companies at the Lincoln Heritage Skills Festival. The Cathedral wanted to showcase the ancient skills that went into constructing one of the finest medieval buildings in Europe. What better than to get the City Livery Companies to demonstrate their respective crafts?

The Lord Mayor of London was one of hundreds of visitors to the Turners’ marquee, where polelathes, adzes, axes, spokeshaves and electric lathes were all in action; and there was plenty on display for people to buy.

Also, last summer we awarded six Company Bursaries totalling £10,000 to aspiring turners (see page 10). By a happy coincidence, one was to John Dilley from Weston super Mare who wants to develop turning as a therapy to help injured people recover. Fred Howe would have approved. We are now inviting applications for the 2019 awards.

In November 2017, the Charity and Howe Committees worked together to sell turned items at the Red Cross Christmas Market at Guildhall. Over £4,000 was raised during the two days, including £526 in an on-line auction for a magnificent turned box in lignum vitae by Master in Turning Reg Hawthorne.

In April 2018 the team were at the Lord Mayor’s Big Curry Lunch raising funds for service charities. Sales of turned items raised over £1,000 and a further £3,700 was contributed by bidders in a silent auction for three lots kindly donated or arranged by members of the Company.

Our association with the Building Crafts College continues. In July 2017, we supported the graduates’ display at the Business Design Centre, and in November, at their graduation ceremony at Carpenters’ Hall, we provided the usual small awards to the student whom the College deemed was best at turning, and the one who made most progress in turning.

The major woodworking show is in Harrogate each November, and the Company was there to support the Register of Professional Turners (RPT) on their stall. It was also an opportunity to network, especially with those who might sponsor future Company events.

One such is the Company Competitions in Carpenters’ Hall on 26 and 27 November 2018. It will include the Company’s Open competition where the theme will be the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice. Entry is free, so book the date now!.

Cockpit Arts is a social enterprise and the UK’s only business incubator for craftspeople. The Company sponsors studio space at its Deptford base to allow aspiring turners to grow a business.

This year’s Cockpit Arts/Turners’ Company award has been made to Rafael Santoliquido, a Brazilian-born turner with a passion for recycling wood to create new objects and containers.

Rafael has been in contact with wood since his childhood, and began his woodturning career in São Paulo where he owned a small workshop. Wanting to improve his skills, he decided to travel through Europe to learn the art of woodturning from the best woodturners, and spent some time at the Glenn Lucas Woodturning Study Centre in Ireland.

At the end of October 2017, some fifteen members of the Company spent a weekend amongst flying shavings as they took up their chisels – some for the first time – at the Max Carey Woodturning Trust in Portishead. During the weekend local turners who had recently completed courses at the Trust returned to receive their certificates from the Master. The Max Carey weekend runs again this year, from 12-14 October. If you would like to take part or need more information, please contact the Clerk.

Youth training has featured prominently over the year. In August 2017, Master in Turning Stuart Mortimer hosted the usual summer workshop at his home in Hampshire and youngsters from around the country camped in his garden and enjoyed expert training from Stuart and other skilled instructors.

The Company also supported the Association of Woodturners of Great Britain (AWGB) in their delivery of woodturning taster sessions to Scouts.

In 2010 the Company re-introduced turning qualifications (see page 16), which had become defunct under the stewardship of City and Guilds.

This work, supported enthusiastically by the AWGB, is being taken forward by the Howe’s Educational Standards sub-committee to provide benchmarks of excellence for the craft.

A Diploma in Turning is being phased in this year, whilst the Company’s Certificates in Turning are already highly prized – with more than one hundred awarded since 2010.

Assistant Christopher Scott
Chairman, Howe Committee

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