The Keswick School of Industrial Art

Probably the most commercially successful and long running of the metalwork ventures associated with the HAIA was the Keswick School of Industrial Arts (KSIA).

The KSIA was established in the Lake District in 1884 by Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley and his wife Edith and ran for 100 years until 1984. Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley (1851-1920) was the vicar of Crosthwaite Church, a Canon of Carlisle and a founder member of The National Trust.

The conditions imposed for attending the class were that each man should be locally born and lead a temperate and steady life.

'The Aim of this school is to find remunerative employment for working men and others, in spare hours, or when out of work, by teaching them such art industries as can be profitably carried out in their own homes'.

'The art industries taught will be brass and other metal work, carving, embroidery etc. One of the chief objects of the promoters will be to secure the conformity of all designs to the finest examples of various styles of work at the best periods'.

'It is hoped that the school will eventually be self-supporting, the cost of materials, tools, production, heating and lighting of work room, etc, being covered by the sale of articles through local tradesmen, and the execution of orders'.

'The articles produced in brass and other metals will be wall-sconces, plaques, trays, lamps, mantlepiece furniture, finger plates, blowers for fireplaces, caskets, bowls, silver ornaments etc'.

'All wood carving will be from the solid, in low relief, and suitable for furniture. No fretwork will be allowed. The School will also provide designs for needlework, and a small assortment of materials suitable for carrying them out'.

'The promoters wish to direct special attention to the differences there will be in character between the ordinary manufactured articles in brass and other materials, and those produced entirely by hand in the manner of old work, and under strict personal supervision'.

'They hope for assistance from all who are interested in the revival of industrial arts, and in the effort to bring the designer into more immediate relation with the workman until they become more or less identified, as was the case at all periods when the arts were truly living'. (KSIA archive, Carlisle Record Office)

The KSIA joined the HAIA in November 1884 at which time it had 30 memers aged between 15 and 50. Unlike the other metalwork guilds within the HAIA the KSIA also exhibited at the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society's exhibitions.

In 1894 the KSIA moved into its purpose built workshops on Lake Road, on the front of the building is the motto 'The Loving Eye and Patient Hand Should Work With Joy and Bless This Land'.

KSIA produced high quality and well designed wares in copper, brass, pewter, stainless steel and silver. Much work in silver was produced for churches throughout the land. In the 1930's a large part of the Schools work was made in 'Firths Staybrite' a form of stainless steel which for a long time was very successful. As well as everyday items stainless steel jewellery was also made inspired by Norse designs in the late 1960's.

Apparently every article made at the School was stamped with the school mark, with nothing been allowed to be sold by individual members. However pieces are seen which are attributable to KSIA (as they are to the same design as stamped pieces) unmarked and others are seen with the stamp of W H Mawson and E Harrison.

Key Designers/Principals:

Herbert J Maryon, Harold Stabler, Isobel McBean, Dorethea Carpenter, Harold Stabler, Robert Hilton, G Atholl Weeks, Charles Petrie. Known Craftsmen John Birkett, Thomas Clarke, Ernest Harrison, Henry Mawson, John Sparks, Thomas Sparks, Robert Temple, Henry Towers, Ronald Wise.

Further Reading:

The Loving Eye and Skilful Hand - The Keswick School of Industrial Art by Ian Bruce, Bookcase 2001.

The Arts and Crafts Movement in the Lake District - Jennie Brunton, Centre for North-West Regional Studies, University of Lancaster 2001