William Palmer of Stoke St Gregory began basket making at the age of eleven years and carried on for nearly seventy-eight years. He worked with his uncle when he started, earning two shillings a week. His earnings gradually increased as his work improved. William received piecework wages, and was paid between tenpence and a shilling for each chair. William worked on his own from 1907 after his uncle emigrated to Canada, buying his own premises in 1915. In 1916 he joined the Army for two years.
This extract of the Last Will and Testament of William Horsforde of Dorchester was first published in Genealogical gleanings in England By Henry Fitz-Gilbert Waters, on behalf of the New England Historic Genealogical Society in 1885.
Les and Michael Musgrove are willow growers from Westonzoyland. They own around fifty acres of willow beds near Langport. Ninety percent of the willow they grow is Black Maul. This variety is popular with basket-makers as its generally seen as being the best working willow. The men use a small machine to cut the willow, which was traditionally cut by hand. As long as willow baskets continue to be made, both men see a future in the industry.
Paul C Ensom celebrates Frederick Whitehead, a naturalist painter with a fine eye for the landscapes of Dorset in all its moods
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For many years Peter Roberts worked with buses and coaches in Dorset. Here he remembers one particular summer day thirty years ago.
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Stephen Morland was a member of the family that ran the Glastonbury sheepskin manufacturers and shoemakers Clarks, Son and Morland. The company closed in 1982. During the First World War the company produced thick heavy gloves for airmen. The leather gloves were cut at the factory, collected by local women who would sew them, and return them to the factory. The women were paid for each glove sewn.
It was more than half a lifetime ago but two Bridport Land Army girls finally received official recognition of their war efforts when Bridport mayor Martin Ray presented them with their Land Army commemoration medals.
Mr and Mrs Milton farmed from the 1930s through to the 1950s in the village of Stogumber, near Taunton. Like many farmers before the war they made cider on the farm, and agricultural workers would take the cider with them into the fields. This recording was made by Phillipa Legg in conjunction with her book ‘Cider-Making in Somerset’
Les Langford’s parents were employed by a small firm of willow-growers, Grinter, Jeanes and Parsons of Langport. The firm also made baskets. When the owner of the firm retired his father decided to set up on his own. Even when he worked for others, his father always grew his own small acreage of willows. Les joined him after National Service and describes the various processes involved in willow work.
Horatio Mosley Moule was the son of the inventor and Vicar of Fordington, Dorset, Henry Moule and his wife Mary Mullet Evans. A Tutor at Cambridge University and close friend of Thomas Hardy, he was to tragically commit suicide in 1873. Michael Russell has published a short biography here.