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The Queen's Bindery Apprenticeship is announced

Release date: Tuesday, 12 July 2016


The increasingly rare skills and expertise of the hand bookbinding trade will be preserved in the UK through a unique new training initiative, The Queen's Bindery Apprenticeship.

The scheme, due to begin in Autumn 2016, will be the only bindery apprenticeship available in the UK and the first since the 1970s.  Over a seven-year period pilot, up to six apprentices will gain unparalleled experience working in the Royal Bindery at Windsor and external workshops, acquiring a broad range of bookbinding skills, including fine leather binding, edge-gilding and gold finishing, which may otherwise be lost for ever.  City & Guilds qualifications will be received upon completion of the five-year training programme. 

The Royal Bindery in Windsor Castle was founded in 1770 by George III, a noted bibliophile, and has been in operation ever since, with many of the tools it houses having been used for centuries.  Today, it is at the forefront of preserving the high standards of craftmanship that are the benchmark of the professional hand bookbinding trade. 

The seven-year pilot will cost around £500,000 and be supported by eight charity Founding Partners: Royal Collection Trust, Antiquarian Booksellers Association, City & Guilds of London Institute, The Clothworkers' Company, The Leathersellers' Company, The Printing Charity, Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust and The Stationers' Company.  In addition, there are three Skills & Industry Partners who will benefit from employing the apprentices and contribute to costs: The Royal Bindery, Blissett Bookbinders and Shepherds, Sangorski & Sutcliffe.

A reception was held at Windsor Castle in June to thank supporters of the scheme. During the reception The Queen joined the gathering and met some of those involved, as well as viewing a display of rare books from the Royal Library.

Oliver Urquhart Irvine, The Librarian & Assistant Keeper of The Queen's Archives, said: "There is no substitute for learning a craft in a professional workshop.  The Queen's Bindery Apprenticeship will ensure that the finest standards of craftsmanship of this valuable trade are passed on to future generations."

Applications to commence an apprenticeship in 2016 have now closed. There will be further recruitment rounds in Summer 2017 and Summer 2018: please check the vacancies page for future opportunities.