The Barnsley Workshop commits itself to taking on new apprentices each September and is only able to take on fee-paying pupils when there is bench-space available.
We are not a workshop for beginners and we like pupils to have some experience of furniture making already. There are other courses that are better set up to teach beginners.
Pupils are taught how to work to Barnsley standards and guided by Craftsman-Tutor Stephen Rock. They receive the same level of supervision as apprentices and the emphasis is still very much on practical experience. They follow a programme similar to that of apprentices but because pupils have varying lengths of time they can afford to spend in the workshop these training blocks are tailored to suit the individual.
Pupils come from a variety of backgrounds. We have trained foreign students, young people looking for some work experience and older people making a career change. Much can be learnt from spending a few weeks or months in the Barnsley Workshop. We like to take on pupils who are keen and who want to work hard and gain experience in a commercial environment. Pupils are expected to abide by workshop rules and keep workshop hours.
Before pupils use the machines we start by teaching some handwork skills. It provides a solid grounding, which means pupils can progress with more confidence. Skills are learnt by making a variety of Barnsley designed pieces ranging from simple breadboards to the most taxing pieces of furniture. Pupils keep the pieces they make. Pupils who have done exceptionally well have sometimes been taken on as employees.
We charge around £2,500 per month. The precise figure depends on the individual’s level of ability and how long they will be in the workshop. This covers tuition and everyday consumables. We charge extra for the materials used on larger pieces of furniture. We prefer pupils to train with us for at least a month. The pupils who have gained most from Barnsley Workshop training have usually trained with us for several months.
We do not guarantee to provide accommodation but we have always managed to help pupils find somewhere to live.
We provide pupils with all the tools they will need and safety training when they use machines. Each pupil has a bench and a tool storage area. Pupils build up their own kits but are advised to try out workshop tools before buying their own.
There is little public transport in Froxfield. Pupils are expected to make their own arrangements.
We like pupils to have some natural ability, to have already done some furniture making and to be eager to improve. There is no age restriction on applicants. Applications are welcome at any time of year. For anyone interested in coming as a fee-paying pupil it is advisable to contact us to find out when there will be available space. We encourage prospective applicants to visit the workshop to look round and meet members of staff.
We like applicants to show us examples of things they have made. The actual item is better than a photograph. We are looking for evidence that they enjoy making things well.
If prospective applicants have further questions they should contact Stephen Rock. An application form is available as a PDF from the website. We usually invite applicants for a trial day in the workshop.
After the training
Former pupils have stayed on with us, taken jobs with other makers or gone on to set up their own workshop.
Coming as a paying pupil would suit people who:
- Want to experience professional furniture making
- Can support themselves while at the workshop
- Want a block of training rather than a comprehensive course