The Worshipful Company of Turners

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

This article was published in The Turner Magazine, July 2018


In 1878 an organisation that has since become synonymous with providing accredited qualifications for craft based trades, which you all know as City and Guilds, was founded by the City of London and sixteen Livery Companies, who became the traditional guardians of a national system of technical education and work-based training. Sadly, over recent years the recognition of turning by City and Guilds, as a separate craft, which justifies its own courses and qualifications diminished and by the early 2000s, turning was reduced to a small sub-set of the City and Guilds syllabus in carpentry. Given that we were not receiving the recognition for our craft of turning commensurate with our financial contribution to City and Guilds, and following a recommendation from the then chairman of the Howe Committee, the Company ceased contributions.

Training briefing for the Certificate in Turning at the Max Carey Trust.


Development of new Turning Qualifications

In 2010 at the Register of Professional Turners AGM and Craft meeting in Apothecaries’ Hall, the then Master included in his speech a commitment to initiate the creation of a qualification in turning. On behalf of the Turners’ Company, he approached the Association of Woodturners of Great Britain (AWGB).

The idea was that, in the short-term, the new qualification should be jointly accredited by the Company and the AWGB, with a view to offering it back to City and Guilds, once the structure and process had been tried and tested over an extended period of time.

Certificate in Turning

This approach was warmly received and, due entirely to the enthusiastic support and technical ability of the then AWGB Chairman, Liveryman Reg Hawthorne and their Training and Development Officer, Freeman Peter Bradwick, we now have the entry-level qualification of a ‘Certificate in Turning’; of which more than one hundred have already been awarded through various training establishments, including Orchard Workshop.

The first two awards were made in Cwmbran by the then Master Peter Gibson and others have followed at The Buildings Craft College, Stratford and The Max Cary Trust Mill at Portishead, Bristol where the then Master Nicholas Somers made the awards in February 2016.

To achieve the award of a Certificate, candidates first have to register their intention with the AWGB and then have to complete a training period, which covers the proscribed syllabus, culminating in the production of a finished piece, to drawing, for assessment by their accredited tutor/trainer.

Award of Certificates in Turning at the Max Carey Trust in February 2016. (L to R) Stuart Bradfield (Chairman of the Trust), David Smith (Tutor), Colin Amos, Nicholas Somers (Master 2016-17), Mark Ingram and Rick Lock.

Diploma in Turning

Working together, with the AWGB and more recently the RPT, the Education and Standards sub-committee of the Howe committee, have agreed that the syllabus for the higher-level ‘Diploma in Turning’ is now ready to be assessed through a pilot study at the Max Carey Trust.

This will be managed by Freeman Stuart Bradfield and it is hoped that this will lead to a roll-out of the Diploma later in the year.

The Diploma award will be managed differently, due to the nature of the syllabus. After the completion of, or acquired exemption from, the initial mandatory tasks, the candidate will ‘self-manage’ their own progress towards achieving the required standard in their selected task options.

For those who are familiar, it will be similar to the Open University process of selecting ‘Unit Options’ to complete towards achieving the final qualification, in their own time and at their own pace.

Master in Turning

The third level of qualification is the award of ‘Master in Turning’. This is currently awarded by the Company, in recognition of a lifetime of achievement and contribution to our craft.

Nominations for consideration can be received from anyone in the craft who wishes to sponsor a candidate by applying to The Clerk.

The application will be submitted to the Company Selection College for recognition of their wider commitment to the craft, above and beyond their essential excellence in turning. This would include recognising their international status, charitable commitments, training and their higher level organisational commitments and work towards fostering recognition of the craft through their known actions and personal profile within the craft.

Since 2010 the Company has only made three prestigious ‘Master in Turning’ awards; the first to Liveryman Ray Key BEM, the second to Liveryman Stuart Mortimer and the third to Liveryman Reg Hawthorne.

Past Master Peter Ellis
Chairman, Education and Standards Sub-Committee

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