Fun Day at Amberley

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On a very cold January day Peter Cheesman’s volunteers and the Walsh Family showed that when you give Plumbers some lead to melt, pour and burn they have real fun at the Plumbers’ Museum Workshop Trust at Amberley Open Air Heritage Museum.


Liveryman and Almoner Caroline Walsh with (standing L to R) museum director Past Master John Lockyer and volunteers Liveryman Peter Cheesman, his wife Debbie and Eddie McCourt.


Steward Stephen Walsh, his daughter Liveryman and Company Almoner Caroline Walsh, Stephen’s wife Geraldine and Caroline’s cousin, Johnny, a plumber by trade, enjoyed a fascinating and educational day learning ancient skills. On arrival Peter excitedly exclaimed this was the first day there had been 3 real plumbers in the WCOP Museum workshop and Caroline even made one of the last 2 moulds for the bespoke lead planter commissioned for RHS Wisley.


Caroline under the watchful eye of Peter Cheesman during preparing the mould for one of the two final sections of the bespoke lead planter for the Royal Horticultural Society at Wisley.


Caroline with assistance from Peter pours the lead into the mould she had created. The secret is to pour evenly in one go for a good result.


One mould for Wisley, now for one more to complete the commission.


Geraldine preparing her mould for lead casting under the direction of volunteer Eddie McCourt.


Geraldine’s lead cast of the Plumber’s Dragon (on the left side of picture).


Johnny with his lead cast of a fire insurance badge.


Caroline’s cousin Johnny shows his lead burning skill with Peter, Caroline and Geraldine looking on.


Peter teaching Caroline the fine art of lead burning.


The museum itself is open from 10am to 4.00pm on Wednesdays to Sundays (including bank holiday Mondays) in the winter season and stays open until 4.30pm in the summer season; it is spread over several acres, so you can spend a whole day there. There are a number of days when the museum holds special events details of which are on the museum’s main website ; you may wish to look at this when deciding when to visit.

The Plumbers’ Gin building is manned on some but not all days. On some of these we have demonstrations and on others guides who can explain some of the exhibits and the process of casting lead.  Would you like to have a go at lead casting? We have more volunteers than last year, but are still seeking more, so if you are interested please contact Adrian Mumford, the Clerk. As you can see from Caroline’s family visit, it is an  interesting and fun skill. If you just want to visit it may also be worth contacting Adrian so we can try (but not guarantee) to have a volunteer there to welcome you and your party.

The main activity at the moment is the making of the bespoke lead planter for RHS Wisley. We were pleased that Caroline could become our latest apprentice and she had fun casting one of the final sections of the planter under Peter’s tutelage. The planter will weigh in at 220kg and is due to be completed in late March. An update about the progress of the planter will be given when it is ready.

Finally, we must offer our congratulations to regular demonstrator Eddie McCourt who was admitted to the Livery on 28 January; we welcome him.