Women in Bristol mastering traditional ‘male’ skills

Bristol Women’s Workshop is a volunteering project created by women for women so they can gain experience in woodwork and upholstery for free.

Jenny Smith, a volunteer organiser that has been involved in the project since 2006 said: “This started 35 years ago when several female teachers in Totterdown felt disappointed by the education establishment and decided they would rather teach women to do practical things like woodwork.”

The Totterdown building, where this initiative started, is currently not suitable, so now all the workshops are taking place in The Makershed in St. Pauls.

Lilian McGroarty, a woodwork tutor for Bristol Women’s Workshop, said: “We are planning several fundraising events so we can go back to Totterdown in the near future.”

Jenny said: “There were several workshops like carve maintenance, DIY, basic plumbing, electrics and all sort of practical skills like that, but these are no longer funded.”

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The workshops are free and available for women interested in learning, there is no need to use machinery or heavy tools, because they believe in the power of hand tools, patience and precision for a gratifying experience.

Lilian said: “We are aware that there is a lack of opportunity for women to learn these skills, and this is a brilliant and supportive environment to come and learn.”

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