American Brewer April 1963

Scotland Cooper Apprentice, Right of Passage

Cover. Coopers in Britain, work one of the few trade initiation ceremonies left in British industry. Apprentice training of coopers after five years ends in the coming “out of his time” and being “trussed.” The neophyte shown, Leslie Jacobs, underwent this ordeal at J.W. Cameron’s Lion Brewery at West Hartlepool in the North of Scotland. The ceremony was brief; at 10 A.M. every cooper beat his hammer on a piece of metal. Jacobs appeared, rolling a barrel of his own making, open at both ends. Three coopers lifted him into the barrel, then, taking up their hammers and wedges, circled the prisoner in a shuffling dance driving the hoops as they went, with their hammers falling in absolute unison. They stopped; successive buckets of sawdust, spent hops and beer dregs deluged Jacobs. The barrel was then turned on its bulge (sic bilge) and rolled aroundthe shop. Finally righted, J.W. Cameron formally presented the cooper with his craft indentures. Then the fresh bright beer toast to the health of the new craftsman.


Humorous- but symbolic. This capsulated the ordeal of all apprentices from nervous entry into a craft- through all the tribulations of learning its skills- until the moment of complete acceptance. In this case, the rites are even more meaningful. Mr. Jacobs is deaf, dumb and lame. He accepted his accolades via the local deaf and dumb missioner.


Truly a triumph, as the cover picture shows.


We, too, drink to your health and long enjoyment of your craft.


Cheers, Mr. Jacobs.

Posted by Rich Wagner, article transcribed from Free Library Collection.