One of the people who did a big job in keeping knowledge of vegetable tanning moving forward down the generations in the 20th century was Colin Jones, who died last October at the age of 86.
Colin began as a chemist making heavy vegetable leathers, and then went to the Procter Department at Leeds University where he was awarded his BSc in Leather Science. He returned to the tanning industry as a practical leather chemist, before his final change in direction to teach a new generation of students.
In the mid 1950s he joined the Leather Department at Northampton Technical College under David Woodroffe, Head of Department at that time. His career developed as he worked together with John Sharphouse, and later when the Northampton leather department and Leathersellers College (formerly in Bermondsey) amalgamated in 1978. This has now evolved into the Institute for Creative Leather Technologies, the University of Northampton.
Colin continued to work within leather education for forty years building an outstanding reputation until retiring in the 1990. He was best known as the senior lecturer in principles of leather manufacture, the chemistry of vegetable tanning agents, the manufacture of heavy leathers, and laboratory analysis. During his career he was co-author of books on vegetable tanning, and was author of five technical papers on vegetable tanning agents and vegetable tanned leathers published in important trade magazines.
After retiring he continued to attend many SLTC and industry events retaining a strong interest in both the leather sector and individuals that he had worked with over the years. He was presented with the Education Prize by Vice Chancellor Ann Tate at the Centenary of Leather Education awards in 2009.
Colin would be pleased to see the current resurgence in vegetable tanning and the many new and unexpected uses to which vegetable tanned leather is now being put.