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The Goldsmiths' Centre officially opened by HRH Princess Alexandra on 25 April 2012

The Goldsmiths’ Centre is a purpose-built development created by the Goldsmiths’ Company serving as a hub for members of the jewellery, silversmithing and allied trades, as well as for the general public. After seven years in the making, this visionary initiative is now up and running having been officially opened by HRH Princess Alexandra on 25 April 2012.

HRH Princess Alexandra unveils the entrance plaque at the Goldsmiths' Centre

This centre of excellence, which brings together like-minded people, as well as being a catalyst for creativity, is located in the heart of London’s Clerkenwell, an area with a long history of silversmithing and watchmaking.  The new Centre provides workshop space, conference facilities as well as a state-of-the-art venue for exhibitions and events. With an on-site café, the Centre is destined to become a popular, thriving social hub and meeting point.

The multi-faceted amenity is also home to the Goldsmiths’ Institute, a new high level training and education facility available to professionals and students.  This educational facility provides a range of programmes designed to stimulate the interest and involvement of the general public.  For example there is a Pre-Apprentice course for young people who are interested in pursuing a career as a goldsmith, plus a Post-graduate Professional Design Programme concentrating on developing creative design-led goldsmithing businesses.  In addition there will be other specialist training opportunities for the wider industry.  

Peter Taylor, Director of the Goldsmiths’ Centre, said: “This exciting new development is a natural progression in the Goldsmiths’ Company 700 year history of serving and supporting the industry by providing training and education. It marks the beginning of a new era and provides inspiration for today by investing in tomorrow.  The venue is designed to inspire creativity and craftsmanship, a sustainable development that will be a source of knowledge and skill today and for generations to come.  In addition we hope the local community and general public will also benefit from and enjoy this re-energised building which will live and breathe creativity and craftsmanship.”

The Goldsmiths’ Centre represents the largest ever single investment (circa £17.5) million by the Goldsmiths’ Company in support of the craft and industry.  While it has long been an ambition of the Company to create a home for the jewellery, silversmithing and allied trades, its instigation was also prompted by the issues currently facing education and training in this area.  Mr Martin Drury, Chairman of the Trustees of the Goldsmiths’ Centre, said:  “The Goldsmiths’ Company has more than 700 years of experience of providing vocational training* and has designed the Centre to provide a unique range of high quality and relevant education and training opportunities to meet the needs of aspiring young craftsmen in the 21st century.”

The Goldsmiths' Centre

The Goldsmiths’ Centre has been set up as a charitable enterprise with a specific purpose, legally defined as: to advance, maintain and develop art, craft, design and artisan skills, including in particular, but without limitation, those pertaining to goldsmithing.  

This will be achieved by:

  • Providing managed workspace for education and training for public benefit.
  • Fostering, promoting and extending public interest in art, craft, design and artisan skills
  • Providing a spiritual home for those engaged or interested in these skills

At its core is the aim to help young people to enter skilled employment through vocational training, in addition to nurturing an enduring community of like-minded individuals and businesses from the industry and associated trades.

The Building

The purpose built facility incorporates an existing Victorian grade II listed structure, one of the first London Board Schools built in 1872.  Architect John Lyall was challenged to successfully and sympathetically combine a restoration project with a new build of a five storey adjoining block. The new building, incorporating old and new materials, has been designed as a contemporary addition that both contrasts and complements the existing school building - a glazed atrium successfully joins the two elements.  Heat and light are provided by renewable energy, supplied by air-source heat pumps and photovoltaic cells.

Additionally there is a fine mounting workshop, a silversmithing workshop and tool room areas, all housed on the ground floor of the Institute.  A prototype workshop and technology area on the first floor is available not only to the Institute’s trainees but also to the Centre’s workshop occupants and others from the wider craft and industry.

Professional Training

The Goldsmiths' Centre provides opportunities for experienced craftspeople and those beginning their careers. The courses offered benefit from access to the Goldsmiths’ Company’s unrivalled knowledge-base and networks and the Goldsmiths' Centre will act as a springboard for a professional and successful future career. In addition the Goldsmiths' Centre will be housed alongside established businesses and consequently will be able to draw upon their knowledge, making it a unique offering and unlike any other facility. 

The Courses

Getting Started: This is a free, week-long course held every January for recent UK graduates of precious metal and the allied trade courses. Delivered as a series of seminars and workshops, the programme focuses on the next steps for those wishing to pursue a career within the industry. The aim of the course is not to dictate any particular career route for recent graduates; instead it provides an opportunity for attendees to review their options alongside a range of practical help and guidance.

Foundation Apprenticeship Programme: Due to recruit from April/May 2012, this new initiative will see the Institute providing high quality technical training for young people aged between 16 and 19.  Offering a broad range of traditional skills, along with drawing and theory, the course will provide the attendees with a solid introduction to the craft and industry.  Ultimately the aspiration for these young people is for them to secure meaningful careers in the industry.

Setting Out: Setting Out is a year-long full-time course for up to eight recent graduates. Through a mixture of practical design sessions, discussion and presentations, this programme will educate, inspire and develop a new generation of design-led creative businesses that can exploit the opportunities presented by a fast-moving global marketplace.

Undergraduate Summer School: Held every year in July this is a free, week-long course aimed at students about to enter their final year of a degree course and is designed to widen the attendee’s perceptions of the industry. It introduces the work of the Goldsmiths’ Company and challenges delegates to improve their design philosophy and approach, whilst offering guidance on career paths. The Summer School covers design practice, creativity, ideas generation, project work and case studies through discussion, exploration and sketching as well as the exchange of ideas between fellow delegates

All the courses take place in the state-of-the-art teaching and learning spaces. 

The Goldsmiths' Company Apprenticeship Scheme

The Goldsmiths' Company has supported 'indentured' or contracted apprenticeships between its Freemen and young people entering the industry as trainees since 1334.  An apprenticeship is an excellent way of gaining qualifications and workplace experience.
Today the Goldsmiths’ Company Apprentice scheme enables a young person to receive vocational training in a workshop environment under the instruction and guidance of an experienced tutor (Master).  Each apprentice is trained for up to five years, during which time they are encouraged to take part in competitions such as the Goldsmiths’ Craft and Design Council Awards and UK and World Skills events.  At the end of their training period they produce a masterpiece and sign up for the Goldsmiths’ Award, a City & Guilds Licentiateship (LCGI).  The Licentiateship award is at a supervisory/junior management level and mapped to level 4 on the National Qualification Framework (NQF). The final stage of the Apprenticeship scheme is being granted the Freedom of the Goldsmiths’ Company and the City of London.  

From now on the new Goldsmiths’ Centre is going to take on the responsibility for the operational management of the Goldsmiths’ Company’s Apprenticeship scheme.  There are up to 24 apprentices at various stages of their training at any one time.

Workshops

The Centre’s workshops provide the best possible environment and facilities for anyone engaged in art, craft and design skills.  

In total there are 15 custom-built workshops and 9 studios which are subject to a 5 year lease (the starter studios are on an inclusive monthly license).  The successful applicants chosen to rent the workshops represent a balance of skill sets to ensure a supportive and collaborative community.  All the tenants have agreed to support this principle and are prepared to be pro-active, as well contributing in-kind to the overall objectives of the Goldsmiths’ Centre’s charitable workshop provision.  Examples of in-kind contribution include teaching on the pre-apprentice course, providing placement for an apprentice, delivering an annual master-class, opening the workshop for tours or simply contributing articles.  

In exchange those renting the workshops benefit from a genuine sense of community both practically and emotionally, backed-up by the strong networking support group that surrounds them.

The Goldsmiths' Centre Exhibition Space

The Centre incorporates a series of four flexible conference and meeting rooms which can accommodate up to 350 people. Providing intimacy on a grand scale, the events and exhibition spaces combine a user-friendly environment with high quality facilities. The top floor suite (The Agas Harding Suite**) has a bio-diversity roof garden and panoramic views over Clerkenwell, a perfect setting for businesses and other organisations to hold conferences, seminars and presentations, as well as formal dinners, receptions and product launches.  With seamless on-site catering and state-of-the-art technology, the Centre will offer smooth running and successful events as well as stimulating interest in, and engagement with the wider aims of the Goldsmiths’ Centre.
 
High on the list of the priorities of the Goldsmiths’ Centre is the ability to hold a regular programme of fascinating exhibitions designed to nurture enjoyment, appreciation and understanding of art, craft and design.

Conference and exhibition space at the Goldsmiths’ Centre is available to hire to outside companies and individuals for events.

** named after Agas Harding, the woman who bequeathed land to the Goldsmiths’ Company in 1514.  Recent development of the land, now known as New Street Square generated the £17.5 million used to finance the new Centre.

The Café

The Bench, the in-house Café is designed to sustain the Goldsmiths’ Centre providing an environment where students, workshop inhabitants and the Centre staff can relax and exchange ideas.  The fully licensed Café is open from 8.00am to 6.00pm and is also available for members of the public who want to enjoy good food and drink surrounded by the buzz of a flourishing creative community.