James Noel White's Crafts Centre history collection

Scope and Content

Documents relating to the history of the Crafts Centre of Great Britain, part of James Noel White's collection to illustrate 'the craft revival in the 20th century'. The original documents in the files in JNW/3 appear to comprise the relevant files of the Council of Industrial Design, to which JNW has added photocopies of C.C.G.B. minutes and documents from files of the Board of Trade, the British Council, etc. Some files also contain notes by JNW and covering letters from people who provided photocopies of documents. JNW/4 are the files of David Kindersley as Chairman of the C.C.G.B. in 1964-1965.

Administrative / Biographical History

James Noel White collected together these papers and publications to illustrate the history of the Crafts Centre of Great Britain (C.C.G.B.), which was set up in 1946, sponsored by the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, the Red Rose Guild, the Society of Scribes and Illuminators, the Society of Wood Engravers and the Senefelder Club, to represent the country's craftsmen and provide premises in which to exhibit outstanding crafts. The wood engraver John Farleigh, President of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, was Chairman of the Centre's Council until 1964. The Centre was based in London and opened a gallery at Hay Hill, Mayfair, in 1950.
In the difficult circumstances immediately following the Second World War, funding was obtained for the body only through the argument that crafts contributed to the improvement of industrial design. The Centre was allocated a grant from the Board of Trade and was effectively a dependency of the Council for Industrial Design. In January 1964 the C.C.G.B. adopted the memorandum 'Preliminary proposals for the establishment of a Crafts Council of Great Britain' by Cyril Wood, who was appointed Director of both the C.C.G.B. and the Crafts Council of Great Britain (founded in May 1964), but later that year Wood decided that the Centre was a lost cause and should be closed down. John Farleigh resigned from the Centre, and was succeeded as Chairman by the letterer David Kindersley. In 1965 Kindersley was succeeded by Graham Hughes, the art director at Goldsmiths' Hall, who oversaw the Centre's move from Hay Hill to Covent Garden.
The Crafts Centre of Great Britain and the Crafts Council merged in May 1973, creating a new body, the British Crafts Centre, which retained the old Crafts Centre's exhibition space in Covent Garden. The newly-elected conservative government had instituted a Crafts Advisory Committee in 1971, which in 1979 was renamed 'The Crafts Council'.
The British Crafts Centre was renamed 'Contemporary Applied Art' in 1987.
For further details, see James Noel White's article 'The first Crafts Centre of Great Britain: bargaining for a time bomb' in the Journal of Design History Vol.2 Nos. 2&3, 1989


JNW/1 James Noel White's notes on his research [1980s]
JNW/2 James Noel White's summary of the contents of the first two files [1980s]
JNW/3 James Noel White's files 1935-[1980s]
JNW/4 David Kindersley's files 1963-1966, 1968

Access Information

Archive material may be viewed by appointment only.


This entry was compiled by Shirley Dixon, Crafts Study Centre Archivist, April 2021.

Other Finding Aids

A catalogue is available onsite.

Conditions Governing Use

Written permission must be sought before any archival material is published.

Appraisal Information

None timetabled.

Custodial History

Collected by James Noel White (JNW) to illustrate 'the craft revival in the 20th century'. As editor of the publications of the Rural Industries Bureau, JNW attended the meetings of the Crafts Centre of Great Britain, and his association with the body continued when in 1960 he was appointed Deputy Director of the Council of Industrial Design.


None expected.


Selected bibliography

White, James Noel, 'The first Crafts Centre of Great Britain: bargaining for a time bomb', Journal of Design History , Vol.2, Nos.2&3, 1989.