What I did on my birthday – tomorrow

I started my birthday early, yesterday.  It’s due tomorrow but I started it early with a walk on the moor above our cottage – I like to stoke up the stove before I set off so I can see the smoke on the way.

I grew up in this village, here are a couple of scenes.

The quarry

We used to play up here as kids, never fell off the top, or even tried to climb it, well not far anyway.  And just in the field next to it is Hardacre Barn…

When I worked on the dairy farm across the road from home I used to have to walk up to this ‘outbarn’ as they are called and feed and muck out dry cattle that wintered there.  The outbarn is a very traditional building round here, mostly about this size.  The small ‘window’ on the sunny side is where the muck was thrown out onto the midden below.  The cattle were housed tied in the shippon at the bottom over them was the baulks where the hay was stored and at the top end the fothergang from where the beasts were fed.  It was the last job on a Sunday morning and I had to run down the field to the sound of the church bells calling me to sing in the choir at matins.

Anyway, today we visited Cliffe Castle museum, which is only 4 miles away but I’d not been there for many years.  It was occupied in the late 19th century by the Butterfield family who adopted a griffon as their heraldic motif, makes a prosaic lightning conductor quite stunning:

You can see the ‘B’ of Butterfield in the wind-vane.  The builder (well the commissioner) Christopher Netherwood was a solicitor, but the building was extensively remodelled by his beneficiary textile millionaire Henry Butterfield.  The contrast between his public rooms and the squalor that most folk in Keighley (the local town) lived in must have been extreme, and I must say I find it rather obscene:

However, the museum has a good section on the tools used by the craftsmen of the time including wheelwrights, pipe-makers, clog iron and nail makers and cloggers.  Check out these stock knives.

I can’t understand why the handles were so curved.  In the film the clogger is always cripplingly bent over.  A straight handle would have cured this.  During the film there is no point where a straight handle would have been a disadvantage.  Peg makers’ knives, I believe were straight-handled.  The one I have was sold to me as a clogger’s but I suspect it is actually a peg-maker’s.

The clogger’s shop has an accompanying video filmed by Sam Hanna in mid 20th century as trades were dying out.  There’s in the museum another film by him showing the making of clog irons and nails and the transition from hand working to power hammers.  This is particularly interesting for me as the next village to us Silsden was famous for making irons and nails, at one time there were 200 forges at work there.

The Sam Hannah documentary films are great, but I think they are only available at the North West Film Archive. (See foot of this post for the range of crafts covered on his films).

There is a short composite extract on uTube here

Then we went to one of our favourite local destinations, Salts Mill.  This is at Saltaire which is a village and massive textile mill built by Sir Titus Salt.  I should do a separate post on this sometime, but you can find out more about this world heritage site here:

We had lunch in the lively Diner there:

Then after obtaining my birthday present, a new chain for my bike, we went on to Bradford Industrial Museum.

This 3/4 car took my fancy.  It’s called a Scott Social.  Scott was a motorcycle manufacturing business in Bradford, and this is actually a motorbike and side car, altered so that the sidecar passengers were not isolated from the rider.  They proved unpopular, apparently, just because they had a tendency to tip over when turning left sharply.

There is a row of back to back houses at the museum, dismantled from elsewhere and rebuilt here:

These were one up, one down houses in terraces with one dwelling at the front and one at the back (hence back to back).  Many were condemned as slums in the 1960s and stupidly demolished rather than updated.  What replaced them is not so pretty usually.

Anyway, with terrace houses you got one of these:

Known round here as a back yard, where you had a privy, hung your washing, and mebbe grew something (during the Second World War only, I suspect).  It tickles me when I keep coming across ‘back yard’ in American writings, as I always tend to think of the above, whereas an American back yard is a whole different scuttle of turkeys.

Anyway a fitting end to the day was a rather brief sunset visit to the world-famous Undercliffe Cemetery, which was bought by a dozen Victorians including Sir Titus Salt, as a business venture.  It was laid out so that the prestigious lots were in the middle next to the great promenade which ends in a splendid view over Bradford, surrounding hills and valleys.  So the expensive lots were acquired by the wealthy, and this is what they did with them:

Some are very overblown, but what about this one?

They must have thought they were mighty in death as in life – fools!  In a more obscure corner there is a clogger buried who must have done well enough to have been able to afford a headstone.

However, it is not such a gloomy place and there’s even a band stand!

So all in all – yes – another Grand Yorkshire Day Out.

Films of Sam Hannah:

Village Blacksmith Tyring a wheel – The blacksmith is shown as he fits iron tyres to cart wheels.
Village Blacksmith shoeing a horse – The village smithy as he makes the shoes, and later fits them to the waiting horse.

Clay Pipe Making – The stages from the raw clay to the finished pipe are shown.

Coopering – The making of an oak cask.

Clogger – The making of a complete pair of Lancashire clogs is shown in detail.

Clog Block Maker – The last of the clog-block makers is seen as he sets out to fell an alder tree and convert it into clog blocks.

Clog Iron Maker – The last of the clog-iron makers manufacturing men’s ‘iron’ clogs.

Modern Clog Making – The mass production of Lancashire clogs in a factory in Todmorden, Lancashire.

The Village Tannery – The production of leather uppers for Lancashire clogs.

Handloom Weaving – Wool from local sheep is spun and dyed, and the weaver is seen at her loom making her cloth.

Potter – The processes involved in making clay pots.

Besom Maker – In the north of England besoms (brooms) were made of ling (heather), this film shows the manufacturing of these brooms.

Dry Stone Walling – Such walls pattern the countryside of Lancashire and Yorkshire. The walls are built of local stone, grit or limestone without the use of mortar.

Making Stained Glass – The making of stained glass windows is followed through all the stages, from the design to the finished window.

Slate Quarry – In North Lancashire, amongst the mountains of the Lake District, we see the processes of obtaining slate from the heart of the mountain for the roofing of houses.

Saddler – The making of saddles and harnesses for horses.

Horn Works – The cutting and shaping of horns for knives, forks, spoons, and table decorations.

Lancashire Rake Maker – The craftsman is shown in an old Bobbin Mill in the Furness District producing his own design of Lancashire rakes.

Tadley Rake Maker – The making of rakes in Tadley, Hampshire.

Basket Making – The making of the traditional swill basket of the Lake District from oak timber.

Making Hay Creels – These are made from hazel wood and rope and enable the farmer to carry a large amount of hay around the bleak hills.

Rope Making – The rope maker is seen at work, making ropes for the farmer and weaving harness bands for horses.

Snuff Making – The process of making camphorated/menthol snuff from imported tobacco leaves.

Haffe Net Fishing – Fishing for Salmon using a haffe net in the River Lune Estuary near Lancaster, Lancashire.

Hand made Files – The making of files by hand in Warrington, Lancashire.

Brush Making – Established in Burnley, Lancashire 1854, brushes were still being made by hand in the workshop.

Corn Dolly Making – The making of corn dollies near Preston, Lancashire, in shapes influenced by the area.

Rush Seating – The making of seats for ladder-back chairs, from rushes imported from Holland.

Oat Cake Making -The making of oval shaped cakes from a batter of oat meal, water and salt in a family-run bakery near Preston, Lancashire.

Charcoal Making – Members of a family of Charcoal Burners producing charcoal at Grizedale Forest in the Lake District.

Clock Making – The restoration of an antique clock.

Sculptor – The sculptor shaping clay, with a spatula and his fingers, to create a likeness of the head of his sitter.

Burnley Weaving Shed – The production of coloured woven cloth at Barden Mill in Burnley, Lancashire.


Bowls on parade

Tomorrow I’m at Victoria Hall in Saltaire (World Heritage Site!)

This will be my Big Christmas Show. I have sixteen carved bowls to sell, and they are all different – funny that eh?

Here’s a sneak preview:

This is a big sycamore dough trough I made.  The inside is finished on the adze.  It was partly inspired by this video (at 3m 35s).  I made this mostly with axe, adze, stock knife and just a bit of crooked knife in the bottom as it’s tricky getting adzing to run through from one side to the other, but maybe I’ll master that in due course.

Just in case you don’t remember what a stock knife is, here it is with a bowl in spalted beech that will not be there tomorrow as it’s not dry yet.

So, just tomorrow, then Strid on Sunday, logs and making a log store next week, then, thank Goodness, a rest for a couple o’weeks.

No more deer, elves, logs, trailers for a while, mmmm.

A little steaming in the woods

I used to do my steam bending on top of my brewing kettle whilst making beer.  That was a little too stressful, doing two things at once with a high time investment,  and potential for things going wrong, and involving gallons of boiling wort.  So I decided to do it properly, in the woods.  I’ve been building and rebuilding a little informal stove from fire bricks and thick mess wire grid for a while.  It’s main purpose has been to drive away the pesky midges that hang around otherwise and bite me.  I’ve been running it with a short chimney which causes a good draught, but to steam I needed a ‘kettle’ on the fire.  I rebuilt it into an approximation of a rocket stove.  Basically this is a heavy firebox to retain heat with a hole where the sticks are fed in and air is taken in immediately below the grid that supports the sticks.  I used an old malt extract bucket a quarter full of water ans then set my steaming cabinet on top.  Not as precarious as it sounds.  Although it took a while to generate sufficient steam, once up to temperature there was no shortage.  The aim was to make a handle for a trugg repair a customer has asked for.  I’d split and shaved down a length of hazel previously and fixed up a temporary jig to hold the handle in shape once bent.  It seemed to go OK:

You can see the trugg with the old worm-eaten handle here:

Sorry, no after picture, but it looks OK.

Call off the search for stock knives, I’ve bought a set from France that are winging their way over the Channel as I write.  They look to be an English pattern set, so it will be interesting to see if there is a maker’s name on them – a lot were made in High Burton, near Huddersfield not far from here. This is the true stock knife as seen on eBay.fr:

The bend on the handle looks pretty shallow, which is a plus for the bowl-carving I’ll be using it for.

Association of Professional Foresters Show, Cannock Chase

Back from a rather full three or four days camping on Cannock Chase in Staffordshire with a load of other old woodies.  This was the scene for the APT World Championship Log to Leg Race.  I think there was about a baker’s dozen of pole lathe turners and green woodworkers assembled for three days of racing and demonstrations for the benefit of the punters attending the huge biennial trade show for all things forestry.  We were in the Vintage and Woodland crafts area. This was about half of our set up:

As you can see, a beautiful day on Saturday, which made up for the chilly wind on Friday and Thursday’s thunderstorm with torrents of rain.  As I was camping in a freegun tent with unknown water-repellent qualities, I pitched it each night under the lathe shelter.  Somehow it always seemed to have got dark before I pitched it!

I was set up between Richard Ely And James Pumfrey who works at Kew’s Wakehurst Place where the James Bond type seed bank is housed in an extensive collection of gardens and woodlands.  It was all very friendly, to say we were all competing twice a day in a team and individual log to leg race.  Every time someone had a kettleful of boiling water, the excess was offered round.  There was also much exchange of useful information and skills.  Here are some of Richard’s spoons, turned from one piece and then split and hollowed with a spoon knife.

Barn was there making spoons too:

Barnaby has a peddlar’s licence and is walking around Britain making spoons and selling them.  Here he is in his residence:

If you meet him, do buy one of his spoons, they’re great – he’s made over 500 so far.

Barn was camped next to Mark Allery, he’s an affable chap, and 8th in the world in log to leg racing (I’m a mere 9th), amongst lots of other woody stuff Mark makes rakes (and an excellent blackberry liqueur):

There were many other interesting craft people on our bit of the site, someone hewing a dug out boat, vintage tractors powering a wood milling machine by belting, tools stalls, charcoal burners, Owen Jones making swill baskets and Gerry Atkinson making clog soles with a stock knife:

Sorry I didn’t catch his face, but he did warn me there’s a lot of bending involved.  A stock knife is what I need for shaping the outside of my carved bowls.  Gerry kindly let me have a go on his straight knife to finish shaping a bowl I had been demonstrating (OK half a bowl actually – it was an unsuccessful experiment with a poplar log).  It was really sweet, so much power and so much control.  I have various feelers (including one in France where there were many cloggers) out for obtaining one, but it may well be a long wait

Altogether an excellent three days.

Postscript: quotes of the weekend, “I’ve found out how to make those logs that burn.”; “Why is poplar not popular?”; “Richard Law’s guilty secret is that he used to be a capstan lathe operator.”; “We don’t want bananas.”; “The water stand pipes were condemned.”; “Is that in the bible?”; “You weren’t a vegetarian when you were in the army.”; “Put a shaving in it.”