University’s Institute of Leather Technology makes sheepskin raft for Kevin McCloud TV programme

Date 13.11.2015

The University of Northampton’s Institute of Leather Technology (ICLT) has made a leather raft, which will feature in a Channel 4 programme starring Kevin McCloud, starting this Sunday.

The buoyancy aids for the raft were made from sheep skins using ancient Chinese methods, following research undertaken at the ICLT’s tannery.

Rachel Garwood, Director of ICLT, explained the University of Northampton’s involvement in the project: “We were approached by the production company to make buoyancy aides to be used on a raft. The method of manufacturing these follows an ancient Chinese method which was used on rafts used for transportation along the Yellow River in NW China.

“The buoyancy aides are made from sheepskins which have been removed from the carcass in a cylindrical manner, treated, the orifices tied up and then the whole thing inflated! Chris Barnard from the University has researched the method and replicated it in ICLT’s tannery. After much hard work, Chris produced 18 buoyancy aides to a very tight deadline!”

The second series of Kevin McCloud’s Manmade Homes will see Kevin again living simply, and this time he’s attempting to build a beach getaway on the English coast in Somerset. The show aims to show the pleasure of making things by hand, of living simply and creatively without mass produced objects.

The first episode of the series will air on Sunday 22 September, 8pm on Channel 4. The raft will feature in episode four.