College and renowned leatherworker launch new course in Hexham

College and renowned leatherworker launch new course in Hexham  
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Northumberland College is working with renowned leatherworker Andy Bates to launch a new Leatherwork course in Hexham, a town where the ancient craft has been practised for centuries.

The Certificate in Creative Leather Work will be taught at the college's Hexham Centre on St. Mary's Wynd from February.

Course tutor Andy Bates, from Hexham, has been making bespoke, hand-stitched leathergoods, pieces for TV and film and historical reconstructions for 30 years and in 2013 he was shortlisted for the national Craft Skills Awards for his teaching work.

Amongst many others, Andy has made pieces for the Turner Prize-winning potter Grayson Perry, for the Lindisfarne Gospels exhibition in Durham, for the Discovery Channel and Channel 4 and for the Grange Park Opera. 

Andy has also been commissioned by Bloomsbury to write the definitive book on leather and working with leather.

Andy said: "This hands-on course will introduce students to the skills of traditional, English leatherwork which they will then be able to use to create contemporary leathergoods, historical pieces and works of art.

"The start of this course will mark the re-invigoration of a tradition which continued for over 1,000 years in Hexham until it died out completely in the early 20th century."

The course will also explore the history of the craft and the business opportunities and enterprise skills needed to become a successful designer and maker.

Patrick O'Doherty, Programme Area Leader for Creative at Northumberland College said: "We are thrilled to be working with Andy Bates on this exciting new course.

"There is currently a shortage of well-trained leather workers in the UK; this course could be the first step towards a career as a designer-maker and will be equally enjoyable for those who want to learn the craft as a hobby." 

The 15 week Level 2 course starts on 7th February and lessons will take place on Fridays, 09:00-16:00 in Hexham town centre. The course may run at the Ashington Campus if there is sufficient demand.

Anyone who would like to find out more about the course or register their interest can call 01434 60 50 50 or email

Northumberland College offers hundreds of courses across the county from four campuses: Ashington, Kirkley Hall, Hexham and Berwick. More information about the college can be found at