Wanted: Apprentice beer barrel maker. England’s last master cooper seeks someone to keep old craft alive

National Post

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The last master cooper in England is appealing for an apprentice in an effort to stop the ancient trade dying out.

Alastair Simms, 52, has advertised for someone to join his business in Masham, North Yorkshire, but there has been a disappointing response.

The work, which involves making wooden casks and vats for beer and cider, is physically demanding and an apprenticeship takes four years.

The successful candidate must be able to lift heavy loads and demonstrate an affinity for using traditional tools.

It is a fascinating job, according to Simms. “Not a lot of people know what a cooper is, and that was probably true even in its heyday,” he said.

“We pretty much do things the same way that the Romans did. The advent of machinery has made the process a bit easier, but we’re still classed as hand coopers. It’s physically a hard job. Sometimes you…

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