A Lifelong Ambition – Casting Lead at Amberley

Charity News Company News

We welcome many and varied groups to the Plumbers’ Workshop in the “Gin” (short for engine) building at the Amberley Craft Museum. There are coach parties for schools, holidaymakers and various groups such as the University of the Third Age. There are also family groups such as parents or grandparents with children of all ages, married couples or the experts finding out more about their craft.  Even 82 year old Michael Smith achieved an ambition at the Plumbers Workshop.

Michael Smith preparing his lead cast


All are welcome but none more so than those who are either current or retired plumbers or metal workers, who show great interest in our display and who reminisce. As a non- demonstrating volunteer I am very much put on my metal (!) when answering detailed technical questions but it is surprising how much I have learned this year after I have later asked the technical experts Phil Mead and Peter Cheesman.

Recently we were visited by Michael Miles, aged 82 from Kettering, who was staying with and accompanied by his son, Ian.  Michael was a metal worker who had worked with several metals as a welder and pipe fitter all over the world. This included work in hospitals where work in operating theatres had to be very precise. However he had never worked with lead, the best metal to work with, and he had always dreamt of doing so.

They had come a few days earlier but they also came again at opening time on 26 June, armed with a plastic “pattern” of an Egyptian Pharaoh on the off chance that some demonstrators would be there. They were lucky to find that there were two, Peter Cheesman and Eddie McCourt. They helped Michael achieve his ambition and Peter worked with him to sand cast some lead using the pattern. Ian and Michael then went home with their pattern and a lead bust of the Pharaoh. We hope they enjoyed their day and we hope to see them on future visits.

John Lockyer (Workshop Director, Trustee and Past Master)