Start date

12th November 2016


10.30 am to 4.15 pm


Rothamsted Conference Centre, Harpenden, AL4 2JQ

Registration deadline

Registration has now closed for this event

Event type



Space is limited to 100 attendees, and there are only 70 spaces available to visit the National Willow Collection

On Saturday 12 November 2016, the Everyday Day Lives in War Centre and Rothamsted Research are holding a free event exploring the National Willow Collection and the history of basketmaking and willow growing during the First World War.

The day will include talks by professional basketmakers about their research into regional willow and basket making industries during the era.

Speakers include William Macalpine, Hilary Burns, Maggie Cooper, Mary Butcher, and Mary Crabb.

In the afternoon William Macalpine, Research Scientist at Rothamsted Research, will give a tour of the National Willow Collection, which was founded in 1922 in response to concerns over the War’s impact on willow stocks.



Tea and coffee

Welcome and introductions - Owen Davies and Sarah Lloyd, Everyday Lives in War Engagement Centre

‘Willow research at Rothamsted’ - William Macalpine, Rothamsted Research


Talks and Q&A

‘The Basketry Then and Now Project’ - Hilary Burns

‘The willow and basket industry around Castle Donnington and the Trent Valley’ - Maggie Cooper

‘Bushels, Butter baskets, Bakers pouches: who made them in Kent from 1913’ - Mary Butcher


Buffet Lunch

Browse the displays and historic baskets


Tour of the National Willow Collection

Tour for 70 people maximum; return transport provided.

Those not part taking in the tour are free to enjoy demonstrations of basketmaking, willow videos and other displays.


A First World War shell basket Video and Q&A with Mary Crabb

First showing of a video about Mary Crabb’s research on, and making of, a First World War shell basket.



Mulled wine/apple juice and mince pies

Hilary Burns - Basketry and Beyond 

Basketry and Beyond is a not for profit organisation encouraging and furthering the craft and skills of basketry. The organisation specialises in supporting people new to the craft and those who want to develop and expand their skills. The avenues for creativity offered by the techniques and materials of basketry are exciting and wide ranging and we open up these possibilities through workshops, festivals, masterclasses and demonstrations.

Mary Butcher - Artist and Basketmaker

Mary was originally a willow specialist, learning local, traditional work from apprenticed makers. She increased my repertoire and researched basket history, a little recorded subject. Widening contacts, with both UK and overseas basketmakers, and a Fellowship in Basketmaking at Manchester Metropolitan University, gave freedom to explore creative possibilities, and generated other ways of making. My techniques and materials now vary from the traditional to the contemporary using natural stems, leaves, bark, wire, plastics, vellum, paper, lots of colour.

Maggie Cooper - Basketmaker

The Arts and Crafts movement was Maggie’s main influence in Birmingham where she grew up and began training in basketmaking at Bournville College of Art.  After an apprenticeship, her first commission was a wicker doll’s  cradle for the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, followed by a solo exhibition at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

Mary Crabb - Contemporary Basketry and Textiles

From a childhood spent making, I now make small woven non-functional decorative objects. Originally learning to make traditional willow baskets, an introduction to textile basketry and the suggestion to try some different materials took my making in a new direction. Working with fine flexible materials, I weave using adapted traditional basketry techniques. My favourite technique is twining. It requires the weaving of an active element around a passive warp. The weaving gives a smooth, slightly undulating surface. Although repetitive and time consuming, the placing of each weaver informs the final piece.