9.30am to 4.30pm

Trug basket image 2 (Small) Trug basket image 1 (Small)  

The course

Over the two days participants will be shown the process of cleaving and shaving chestnut to produce the handle and rim for their Trug and will be shown how to steam and bend both chestnut and the willow used for the boards of the Trug. The final part will involve assembling their Trug to take home and cherish. There will also be an information period when participants will learn some of the history of this most famous of Sussex Crafts.

This course offers a rare opportunity to learn this traditional craft from an expert craftsman, but participants should be aware that the weekend must be seen as an introduction as full training in this craft takes a year.

During the weekend you will also have the opportunity to view items donated by Robin’s company to the Museum.

The tutor

Robin Tuppen has over 26 years of experience in the makign of the South Down Modern Trug and some 20 years in making the Royal Sussex Traditional Trug. Chris Tuppen has over 5 years experience and is now a Master Trug Maker.
Over the years Robin has promoted this unique Sussex Craft all over the world and his companies have attended numerous international shows, including in the USA and Japan where his trugs were admired by the crowned Prince at a trade show in Tokyo.
He has been a director of Gardenex for over 16 years. Gardenex is a trade association devoted to the export of British gardening products and Robin was chairman for almost four years. During that time he also sat on a Department of Trade & Industry Gardening Task Force and helped arrange promotional shows in the gardens of the British Embassy in Paris and at a hotel in Brussels. He has also attended many shows throughout England, Belgium, France, Germany and The Netherlands.
Robin gives talks to local organisations about the History of Trug making and actively promotes education of his chosen craft whenever possible.

Chris Tuppen is Robin’s son and has worked at Thomas Smith's for over 9 years.  Having trained in his father’s workshops he became a craftsman within 2 years and is now a Master Craftsman Trug Maker, which means he has taught two apprentices.  Chris loves his work and is aptly suited to working with wood in all its forms. Over the past four years Chris has been involved in running courses at the Weald & Downland Museum and elsewhere and he enjoys teaching people the traditional skills involved in Trug Making.

Participant information

It is advisable to bring a pad and pencil.
All other tools and materials will be provided.


£130 per person, to include tuition, materials, teas and coffees. The Museum café will be open or you can bring a packed lunch.

The Museum

The Weald & Downland Open Air Museum has over 45 historic building exhibits.  It is also home to the award winning and innovative Downland Gridshell, which houses a conservation workshop and artefact store, and is also used for many practical courses.  The Museum runs a full programme of courses in historic building conservation and traditional rural trades and crafts, along with MSc programmes in Building Conservation and Timber Building Conservation validated by the University of York. Please telephone for further details.

To book, download a form here. Alternatively, fill in the booking request below. Please read our terms and conditions before booking.

Make a Booking Request

This is an initial booking request form, and does not guarantee a place on the course. The Adult Learning Team will check the availability of the course, and reply to you as soon as possible - usually within one working day.