The red list of endangered crafts

We were proud to fund the 2021 edition of the Heritage Craft Association’s Red List of Endangered Crafts. The Heritage Craft Association (HCA) Red List began in 2017 and is the first of its kind that ranks traditional, heritage crafts by the likelihood they will survive to the next generation. 

In the latest Red List, the Heritage Crafts Association found 110 crafts were viable but a total of 134 crafts were at risk and were ranked as either endangered, critically endangered or extinct. Building on previous research, this latest Red List found that 20 new crafts are ranked as ‘critically endangered’ and 7 crafts as ‘endangered’. A full list can be found here.  

Compass making, diamond cutting, kiltmaking, these now critically endangered or endangered crafts serve niche markets and have a lack of practitioners, few if any trainees and no viable routes for training. The HCA looked into information such as this, to decide how a craft is ranked on the Red List. The latest research also discovered that Covid-19 has exacerbated the difficulties for these makers and plays into where they rank on this year’s Red List. 

Luckily, HCA’s latest research includes some good news. No new crafts have become extinct since the 2019 Red List and some crafts have even bounced back and become more popular such as gilding. The HCA puts this down to an increased awareness around heritage crafts and a greater market for handmade and local goods. 

At the Pilgrim Trust, we focus much of our funding on ‘tangible’ heritage, such as the preservation of buildings and artefacts. Yet so many of the projects we fund depend on specialist skills and knowledge to preserve and maintain historic buildings. Indeed, the HCA tells us: “Whilst the UK has been a world-leader in the preservation of tangible heritage (museum collections, buildings and monuments), it has fallen behind the rest of the world when it comes to the safeguarding of intangible heritage (knowledge, skills and practices).” That’s why we are proud funders of the HCA, the Red List and its advocacy around preserving intangible heritage. 

If you’d like to support makers and heritage crafts, visit the Heritage Craft Association’s website here. For the purposes of the Red List, the HCA define a heritage craft as “a practice which employs manual dexterity and skill and an understanding of traditional materials, design and techniques, and which has been practised for two or more successive generations.” 


Photo credits: Glen Miller & B Cooke & Son Ltd and The Kiltmakery