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An interesting talk was given on past traditions. The speaker talked about the various materials used for tools, ships etc. 60 acres of forest would be required to build ‘A Man of War’ ship.

Walking sticks / Cleaving Axe / Dole Axe / Hurdles / Gates etc were all made. We saw a photo of Canterbury Cathedral market with wood hurdles + fencing containing sheep at Romney Marsh.

Fence Pales in Kent, were generally made in Faversham / Mereworth and were from Chestnut not Burch. Paling Machines would wire the Pales together. Snow fencing is popular in Scotland. Ash is as obedient as Chestnut, but doesn’t weather as well. The Hay Rake design has not changed over the years.

Burch Coppice is treated as a weed now. There is not 1 acre of commercially managed Hazel left in Kent. Wattle works well, can turn it 360 deg (thatch). There were many corn stacks up to the late 50’s – 60’s, which was part of agricultural work on the farm. There is a Company in Faversham that has been making ladders for over 50 years. Thatcher’s ladders have rails on the inside.

Willow was used for basket making. Tally baskets were used for the hops. We saw a picture of someone carrying 6 fruit baskets on their head at Covent Garden Market. Casks were produced to the correct specification & therefore nails were not required. There was a lot of pottery / glass making in Kent.

Wooden Coopers were used in Dairies, vinegar kegs for herrings, oysters, cheese moulds etc. There were specialist coopers for gun powder, cement, lime with softwood from the Baltic. Charcoal burning was traditional fuel for Oasts.

Wheelwrights were not traditional to just Kent. We saw a photo of a workshop that had not changed for 4 generations, but of course the customers had. Elm was ideal but Oak was stronger for the spokes with Ash for the outside. By the WW2, there were 72 registered Wheelwrights.

Oak was used for timber framed properties. Tanning used a mixture of water/chalk/lime. Most Tanneries closed down when leather went out of fashion. More recently, leather has been used for the car industry. Cricket balls go through 43 different processes, therefore a stringent quality check. We learnt that one workshop used the same hammer for 42 years.

Most Villages had their own boot makers. Kent used to have Cider making and Paper making where you had racks of paper drying out on cow hair ropes. To make the watermark, thin copper wire was sewn. Stilts were made for the hop pickers to access the bines.

Last Revised: 10 June 2007

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