The founding of the Association of Painting Craft Teachers

The Association of Painting Craft Teachers did not have an auspicious beginning;

But for the dogged determination of its founders, it would have been doomed before it began.

In the 1920’s three wise men had a “vision”. That vision was the founding of The Association of Painting Craft Teachers.

Their vision was to bring together all those kindred spirits from all parts of the country to discuss and share their ideas and pass on their skills and knowledge for the teaching of the craft of Painting and Decorating.

These three, in 1921, met and founded the A.P.C.T. They were Will Cantrill, Charles Eaton and Randal Whitaker. And as they taught in Manchester, London and Birmingham, the Association commenced with a national flavor.

There had been unofficial discussions between painting craft teachers as to the desirability of forming an organisation of their own, but it was left to Mr. Randal Whittaker, of Birmingham, to take the first step.

He sent out a circular letter to all known painting craft teachers inviting them to a preliminary meeting at the Manchester School of Art.

This meeting was convened for a Saturday afternoon late in 1920, and the letter of invitation was jointly signed by Mr. Whittaker and Mr. Will Cantril.

The object of the meeting was to consider the establishment of an organization that would link up all those who were engaged in the teaching of the craft of painting and decorating, so that there might be mutual consideration of problems associated with their work.

Although a considerable number of invitations were sent out, and after waiting half-an-hour beyond the appointed time, three teachers only were present; Mr. Cantrill, Mr. Whittaker, and Mr. Charles H. Eaton.

It is often said that the smaller the committee the more effective it can be; and these three enthusiasts set about proving the truth of this assertion.

They thoroughly discussed the project from every angle and, so convinced were they of the necessity for a teachers’ organisation, they there and then decided to set up such a body and called it the’ Association of Painting Craft Teachers’.

They also appointed its officers:
President, Mr. Will Contrill; Honorary secretary, Mr. Randal Whittaker; and Honorary treasurer, Mr. Charles H. Eaton.

What they would have done if it had been necessary to appoint a Chairman, Auditors a Competitions Secretary & Artisan Editor it is difficult to imagine! Soon the collaborative initiative of the trio of founder members attracted others and from there on membership developed quite rapidly and early aims were pursued. It should be remembered that in the
20‟s and later the 30‟s there were few full-time lecturers in painting and decorating.

Will Contrill

Will-Cantrill-APCT

From Arts and Crafts to Construction

Many painting craft teachers in those years between the two world wars were involved in the trade as practising craftsmen, managers or employers and taught and managed craft education on a part-time basis.

W.H. Cantrill ran a Painting and Decorating business in Oxford Road, Manchester and taught part-time at the Manchester School of Art.

Enthusiasm for the „craft‟ boiled over in those early days; we had been at war, returned and got involved in APCT.

Meetings were always a hive of activity, thought provoking ideas, to develop new ideas in the Education of Painters and Decorators.

At the beginning of its life less than half-a- dozen of the association’s members were full- time painting craft teachers. To-day the total membership is around 200, mostly qualified full- time teachers.

Painting and decorating being largely a hand-tool craft with obvious strong links with the arts and crafts movement was established educationally in Art Colleges or Schools of Art as they were often known. It was only in later years following the Second World War that the craft of painting and decorating became more associated with Construction departments in the Colleges. This new association with construction was first evident in the Southern part of England before it spread northwards.

From these small beginnings the APCT has developed into one of the longest established Association in the UK.

After the death of Will Cantrill in 1948 the decision was taken to elect the President by national vote and the term of office would be one year as Vice President and one year as President. (Will Cantrill had held the post for 27 years ).

The Association had a membership of some 150 and a clearly defined constitution. The main class of membership is for practising painting craft teachers but there are other forms of membership appropriate to retired member‟s students and those of special regard to the craft.

Many retired members retain an active involvement or interest long after retirement.

Charles Eaton

Charlie-Eaton-APCT

The Scottish Association of Painting Craft Teachers

In 1955 with the assistance of the A.P.C.T. the Scottish association of Painting Craft Teachers was formed. It was felt that this would help solve the geographical problem of distance making meetings difficult to attend and also the need to meet the particular educational system and requirements of the trade in Scotland.

The two associations enjoy a good relationship and enthusiasm to further the craft of painting and decorating to which all painting craft teachers subscribe.

The Development of Painting and Decorating Courses

The growth of part-time day release from industry was part of the education boom following the war years and still continuing but for less altruistic reasons! It seems difficult to perceive craft education almost solely on an evening only basis but that is what prevailed into the 1950‟s. Half-day release was followed by full day release but this additional tuition did not rule out attendance at evening classes.

These continued for a time but gradually a reduction took place from three evenings to two and from evening classes to twilight classes.

The block release pattern of attendance and a whole introductory period of education and training off-the-job evolved often associated with the development of the Industrial Training Boards in the early 1970‟s. The A.P.C.T. became stronger than ever before during the third quarter of the 20th Century as the number of craft teachers required to teach on a full-time basis increased.

The introduction of the Industrial Training Boards in the 1970‟s also spurred on craft education. Alongside this new impetus was, what many are now seeing as disastrous, the reduction of time-serving or apprenticeship. Gradually courses became more structured and the influence and emphasis of decorative art waned.

The new order embraced technology, job management, health and safety and construction ideology and some of the painting craft mystique disappeared. However, the decorative heritage was not lost forever as can be witnessed by observing craft labour performing to the public demand of the Victorian Revival. Skills such as broken colour work, stencilling, surface divisions with lines and borders are in demand and are evident.

Painting Craft teachers have done much to ensure that these so termed obsolete skills are able to be adequately performed today.

It is a tribute to the spirit of the Association‟s members that they do rise and meet the challenge. That spirit was evident in 1921 and remains so today.

It has been remarked that Painting Craft Teachers like to show-off. This trait was encouraged by the holding and support of national competitions based upon local and regional activity.

They encompassed the work of a variety of students of differing age groups, standards were very high and at times the intense competition and mystique surrounding the production of the work caused great envy and some would say jealousy amongst some craft teachers.

Competitions are entered today but are more realistic and trade-based than of old and more importantly based on skills more appropriate to the level at which the young competitor can be expected to perform competently. Skill-Build and its international connection is the current example but there are also manufacturer sponsored competitions held from time-to-time.

In conclusion, what is certain is that the Association of Painting Craft Teachers is as strong as ever it was in the past. The Association enjoys the position of being arguably the oldest and most respected craft-teaching organisation in the world.

Members in the twenty first century can surely look back and say “They did us proud” before pledging to continue to build upon that innovative and inspired initiative as we look forward to the next millennium.

The ‘Holly bank’ Connection

Since the Second World War and the aforementioned spurt to organise and promote technical education on a broader basis, Painting and Decorating has been recognised by the Government as being worthy of much support and many courses have been set-up and usefully attended. Not least of these has been the one year full-time teacher training course leading to a Certificate in Education and held at Hollybank, Huddersfield, as part of the
provision of Leeds University. Many A.P.C.T. members have been associated with the Certificate course and its part-time equivalent and have fond memories of their time at Hollybank.

From this, many members became actively involved with development of Painting and Decorating courses. A number became involved with the examining bodies and were appointed as regional examiners for City and Guilds and the regional boards. Members have continued with the development of craft courses in conjunction with the CITB. More recently the APCT has had a great input to the new NVQ courses. Members of APCT
are also involved in developing courses for conservation and restoration, working with C.O.T.A.C.

Exhibitions and Demonstrations

Over a number of years craft exhibitions were held throughout the regions, the variety of work that could be produced on a 42” by 21” panel was truly amazing, graining and marbling, painted ornament, sign writing and heraldry. The quality and standards produced by the students (with some guiding by their tutors!) was exceptional, sadly these exhibitions no
longer take place.

In recent years the Association has held “Craft Awareness” Weekends. The first was held at Coventry College in 1995 followed by York in 1996, Hastings in 1997, & Kettering in 1998. Events have also been held at St Helens College & Wigan College. In 2000 as part of the millennium the Association put on a major exhibition at the NEC Birmingham.

In 2004 the APCT worked with Bolton Museum to put on an exhibition with demonstrations & workshops to celebrate the work of Thomas Kershaw. For the first time since Kershaw’s death, all his surviving panels were brought together from The V & A in London & Telford College in Edinburgh to be exhibited with Bolton Museum’s collection. There were over 150 APCT panels on display. Demonstrations & Workshops are still part of the APCT calendar.

Competitions

It has been remarked that Painting Craft Teachers like to show-off. This trait was encouraged by the holding and support of national competitions based upon local and regional activity.

They encompassed the work of a variety of students of differing age groups, standards were very high and at times the intense competition and mystique surrounding the production of the work caused great envy and some would say jealousy amongst some craft teachers.

Competitions are entered today but are more realistic and trade-based than of old and more importantly based on skills more appropriate to the level at which the young competitor can be expected to perform competently. Skill-Build and its international connection is the current example but there are also manufacturer sponsored competitions held from time-to-time.

In conclusion, what is certain is that the Association of Painting Craft Teachers is as strong as ever it was in the past. The Association enjoys the position of being arguably the oldest and most respected craft-teaching organization in the world.

Members in the twenty first century can surely look back and say “They did us proud” before pledging to continue to build upon that innovative and inspired initiative as we look forward to the next millennium.

Links with Manufacturers & Kindred Organizations

Since the 1950‟s the Association has developed strong links with manufacturers & suppliers.

A short course held at ICI in 1955 became the forerunner for many courses offered by them & others including Crown, Vymura, Leyland, Permoglaze & many others. In recent times Akzo Nobel, Muraspec, Hamilton Acorn, & Purdy.

The Association has developed good relationships with other bodies such as City & Guilds, CITB, BSI, The Faculty of Decoration, & The Painting & Decorating Association & the SAPCT.

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