The late Peter 'Mick' Willet.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

A highly skilled silversmith, he trained at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London (today, Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design), before beginning a year-long apprenticeship at the Tudor Art Metal Company, followed by a five-year long apprenticeship with the silversmith LA Galvin.

Mick worked in Hatton Garden for the venerable silversmithing company Edward Barnard and Sons before joining the relatively young restoration and conservation company, Peter Smith Restoration, in 1969.

He would remain with this company (renamed Plowden & Smith in 1985) for the next 50 years and was a much-loved, valued and respected team member.

During his long career as Plowden & Smith’s senior metal conservator, he worked on many interesting and high-profile projects including pieces from the Royal Collection, notably on the fire-damaged chandelier from Windsor Castle and artefacts from the collection of the Palace of Westminster.

Renowned expert

Mick was a renowned expert on the restoration of ancient Islamic astrolabes and worked on many important examples at the National Museum of Qatar.

He had a passion for metal forming and finishing techniques and would dedicate considerable time to research, using his seemingly limitless library of books, to ensure the correct result.

Mick regarded metal conservation as a vocation. Any question of retirement he always firmly dismissed, and at the age of 72 he was still taking on restoration assignments around the world. In more recent years, Mick was committed to imparting his exhaustive knowledge of processes and techniques rarely taught on modern degree programmes to the next generation of metals conservators.

Mick died at home of a heart attack on April 29, leaving behind his widow Christina and two sons.

From Plowden & Smith