Honouring two ‘leading men’ at Amberley Museum #PMWT

PMWT Recent events

The Master Paul Nash and members of The Worshipful Company of Plumbers (WCoP) visited the Museum on the day of the Vintage car display.

As well as revelling in the wonderful array of classic vehicles, the plumbers used the occasion to make two presentations to two of their own much loved ’vintage classics.’

The first order of business was to honour the late Phil Mead:

A ‘legend in lead’ for more than forty years, until his untimely death in March 2021, Phil Mead was a driving force within the Plumbing Museum and Workshop Trust #PMWT. He helped to establish the Trust in its previous location, and played a huge role in setting up the display at Amberley in 2012. A skilled lead worker, he was frequently to be seen demonstrating the art and craft of lead work at the Museum. He features in a video on lead casting which can be viewed in the Gin Building.

As a tribute to Phil, his co-demonstrators cast a magnificent lead planter:

Phil’s widow Wendy, and members of the family, were invited to the formal dedication of the planter:

Afterwards, Phil’s son Colin Mead tried his hand at lead casting under the watchful supervision of Peter Cheesman and Eddie McCourt. Phil originally trained at Brighton College and became a Plumbing lecturer. He eventually rose to be head of the Plumbing, Heating, and Welding Department at Chichester college where he was known for his caring encouragement and development of students. We think Phil would have approved of the fact that plumbing is becoming more diverse and welcoming more women into the trade.

Rowan Smith, seen here preparing a mould for making a lead cast, is in her first year as a student plumber at Brighton College:

Rowan is the granddaughter of one of Amberley’s other well know characters, Ken Wood ‘The walking stick maker’.

In the friendly atmosphere of Amberley craftsmanship in all its forms blossoms.

The other driving force in the success of PMWT is Edward Hopkinson. Edward is a Past Master of the WCoP. Under his leadership, and with help and support from Phil Mead, Edward steered the museum through its early days, securing backing and funding to establish the museum, and finding safe ways for the craft and the tools associated with it to be explained and exhibited. He campaigned tirelessly to ensure the plumbing museum flourished. He was responsible for compiling much of the information regarding the craft which is on display in the Gin Building.

Edward has been the backbone of the Trustees. In November 2022, he decided to make way for a new Chairman, David Hamilton, another Past Master of the WCoP.  Edward will continue as a member of the board. To honour his great service and the gratitude of all involved with the Trust, the demonstrators cast a statue which was presented to him in the Gin Building:

Members of the company enjoyed a splendid lunch supplied by the Museum catering team and then took in all that Amberley had to offer including of course the classic cars.

Sandra Raine
Plumbing Museum and Workshop Trust #PMWT

Read more about the Plumbing Museum and Workshop Trust at Amberley Museum.

This article originally published in the Amberley Museum ‘Noticeboard’ newsletter on Friday, 7th April 2023.