Dave Astley

Dave Astley

What/Who inspired you to take up taxidermy?

Love of nature and Miss Peckett, a biology teacher at Bronte Secondary Modern in Keighley.

When did you start and what was the first item you worked on?

I started at aged 13 and my first item was a Wood Pigeon stuffed with cotton wool and no leg wires.  It still has all its feathers.  The next bird was a song thrush.

What was your first break into the industry?

Rowland Wards in London at the age of 16 years.

Work History?

  • Roland Wards for 1 year
  • World of Nature Knaresborough in Kirby Fleetham for 3 years
  • Derwent Plastics where I was a part-time taxidermist for 9 years building up a customer base, as I didn't want to work with purposely killed specimens
  • Self-employed in 1983
  • Retired in 2019

Notable Projects?

  • Jorvik Viking Centre in York working on set in 1983/4 - photos below show a lot of the woodwork that was constructed out of compo
  • Children's Museum in Cairo working on set in 1995
  • Doncaster Museum revamp the late 1990s
  • Cats & Monkey Business groundwork National Museum of Scotland
  • Restoration of the Hancock & Tunstall Great Auks at The Hancock Great North Museum
  • Time Walk at Dales Countryside Museum - photos below show doorways representing different time zones and displays within those zones

Who inspired you the most when you were learning?

Tom Richmond bird taxidermist at Wards, then all Guild of Taxidermist conference delegates.

Have you helped or taught any successful students?

Tony Armitstead, Mike Gadd and Carl Church, but I don't know how much help I was to them.  There was also Phillip Jones who says he still uses the attitude I instilled in him to tackle any project before him.

Guild Qualifications

Qualified Accredited Member.

Dave Astley

Dave demonstrating the versatility of compo at a conference

Guild Committee Work

  • 32 years on the committee
  • Chairman in 1991
  • Editor from 1993 to 1996
  • Organised 6 Guild conferences


18 demonstrations at Guild conferences and seminars on:
  • bird modeling
  • fleshing bird and mammal skins
  • casting
  • finishing
  • groundwork
  • refurbishing cases and trophy heads


I have judged at many a Guild conference.

Dave Astley, 2019

Gallery of Work