Dozens of traditional British crafts that have been practised for centuries are in serious danger of vanishing forever, a new study says.

Craftspeople, from flute makers to glass sign painters, and wagon builders to bell founders, are on the brink of extinction as fewer people are learning their skills.

The warning comes as the Heritage Crafts Association release a new 'Red List of Endangered Crafts' to highlight the ancient trades most at risk of disappearing.

The Oxford Times: Stephen Wessel one of the last flute makers in the UK at his workshop in Alhampton, Shepton Mallet, Somerset.Stephen Wessel one of the last flute makers in the UK at his workshop in Alhampton, Shepton Mallet, Somerset.

Researchers have assessed 212 UK crafts, which were divided into four categories of 'extinct', 'critically endangered', 'endangered' and 'currently viable'.

Mould and deckle making - a form of papermaking - has been classed as newly extinct after the last practitioner died in 2017. The 'extinct' list also includes cricket ball making, gold beating, sieve making and lacrosse stick making.

Of the remaining crafts in the study - done by the HCA - 36 were deemed critically endangered. There were 70 deemed endangered, and 102 classed as still viable.

The sixteen newly listed critically endangered crafts for 2019 are:

  • Basketwork furniture making
  • Damask weaving
  • Fair Isle straw-backed chair making
  • Hat plaiting
  • Kishie basket making
  • Maille making
  • Millwrighting
  • Orrery making
  • Paper making (commercial)
  • Pottery (industrial)
  • Reverse glass sign painting
  • Shinty caman making
  • Spinning wheel making
  • Wainwrighting
  • Watch face enamelling
  • Withy pot making

Already on the list were clay pipe making, clog making (hand-carved soles), coachbuilding and wagon making, collar making, Devon stave basket making, fan making, fore-edge painting, hat block making, metal thread making, paper marbling, parchment and vellum making, piano making, plane making, saw making, spade making (forged heads), swill basket making and tanning with oak bark. Watchmaking, flute making, and bell founding have all been upgraded from endangered to critically endangered, while umbrella making is a new arrival in the endangered list.

Greg Rowland works as a wainwright - someone skilled in making carts and wagons.

The craft is one of the 16 newly dubbed "at serious risk of no longer being practised".

The Rowland family can trace its connection to wainwrighting back to 1331 with Greg's ancestors building the wagons that transported stone to build Exeter Cathedral.

The Oxford Times: Greg Rowland in his workshop in Colyton, DevonGreg Rowland in his workshop in Colyton, Devon

The 48-year-old, who works in Colyton, Devon said: "A wagon encapsulates the social history of an area. It shows the evolution of our forebears."

Greg has made Somerset Levels wagons and Dorset wagons, as well as ones from his home county.

He added: "Every county has a different shape of wagon. They all had to be made to suit the land and tracks in the area.

"If we lose them, we lose a huge part of our countryside life and history."

One of the horse-drawn vehicles can take up to three months to complete, and can sell for anything from £2,000 to £5,000.

Greg said: "When you use your hands to make something, you gain that satisfaction. A lot of surveys have been done that show it's so beneficial to your mental health."

Withy pot making is another new entry on the critically endangered list, and David French's family has been making the pots - traditionally used to catch crab and lobsters - for at least five generations.

The 61-year-old from Plympton, Devon said: "I used to watch my grandfather making them when I was a child. It always stuck with me.

"I don't want to see it lost. It's a hard thing to explain to someone who hasn't grown up with it.

"I can trace these pots by looking at oil paintings going back 400 years. It probably goes back further.

The Oxford Times: David French, a withy pot maker from PlymptonDavid French, a withy pot maker from Plympton

"Unless we can encourage people to take it up, we'll see it die out."

David said the pots, which are named after the willow they are made from, take around five hours to make, and sell for up to £75.

Although many of them are used as ornaments in pubs and restaurants, he said a fisherman had recently started using one.

He added: "He fished it successfully and one of the local pubs buys everything from that pot because it's environmentally friendly."

Daniel Carpenter, who led the 2019 Red List for the HCA, said: "These crafts are a part of our heritage, not just the objects they produce but the skills themselves.

"Like many traditional practices they are often too subtle to be revived from written sources or documentary films.

"They have to be kept alive through continual practice and one-to-one transmission."

He added: "Often, when a craft has gone it's lost forever."