Cockpit was founded in 1986 and began as five 'starter' units in Cockpit Yard - today we house 170 makers in our studios.


Our name ‘Cockpit’ derives from the site in which our Holborn incubator is situated. Cockpit Yard was originally an eighteenth century cockerel fighting arena. In 1745 it was taken over by a cabinet maker and so its roots as a place for ‘craft’ began.

1986: Camden Recycling creates five ‘starter’ units at Cockpit Yard for young unemployed people starting up a craft business.

1988: Taken over by Christopher Baggott, Cockpit expands into a community of 20 workshops under the banner of Cockpit Studios. One of the first to introduce ‘Open Studios’ events.

1993: Cockpit Arts is formally incorporated and becomes a registered charity

2000: The organisation expands into a hub of 100 makers.

2002: Vanessa Swann is appointed as Chief Executive. The Deptford premises opens – accommodating a further 65 makers.

2004: A programme of professional development workshops is introduced.

2005: A creative business incubator model is introduced.

2006: Sees the first of a series of high profile site-specific installations by Cockpit makers – these include The Great Eastern Hotel, The Shop at Bluebird and Canary Wharf Window Showcase.

2007: The professional development workshops are opened out to creative-businesses operating outside Cockpit, reaching a further 300 makers each year.

2008: Research findings exploring business activity & performance in the craft sector are released.

2009: Cockpit’s Maker Difference campaign generates over 12,000 supporters for makers. Cockpit makers report an average 158% increase in profit.

2010: Making It is launched with an Online Resource & Tool Kit. Cockpit becomes a fully fledged Social Enterprise and Chief Executive, Vanessa Swann is awarded the Arts & Business Garrett Award for outstanding achievement in the encouragement of business support for the arts.

2011: Exciting celebrations for 25th Birthday with celebrity guests and a new Consultancy Service which grabs global interest. The Prince’s Trust partners our Creative Careers programme.

2012: Made in London, Loved Worldwide campaign celebrates a report highlighting that 57% of Cockpit makers are now exporting their work, compared to only 30% nationally.

2013: A record 24 Awards and Bursaries awarded in the year, including the new Cockpit Arts Setting up Bursaries offered to those starting out in a craft career.

2014: Cockpit rolls out a pilot Creative Employment Programme supporting 22 makers to create 12 new jobs. Five new studios are added to the Deptford incubator so the organisation can accommodate a total of 170 business across both sites.

2016: Cockpit celebrates its 30th Anniversary year, using 30 Makers’ Stories to illustrate its pioneering work with craft businesses as a unique creative incubator.

2017: The first-of-its-kind Apprenticeship Programme for non-graduates is launched. Widely considered to be a pioneering initiative that helps craftspeople take on their first employees and an attractive route for young people choosing not to go to university.

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