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Monday, January 14, 2013

The Broom Squire

(I'm reading, "Traditional Country Craftsmen" by J. Geraint Jenkins).

8. The Broom Squire

"For many centuries the small village of Tadley on the Hampshire-Berkshire borders has been well known as the home of a large number of craftsmen. In the past it supported a large number of rake makers, besom makers, hurdle makers, turners and many others who drew on the profuse timber growth of the Kennet valley and surrounding heath-land, to produce a variety of products for farm and household use. Up to a few years ago, Tadley was a typical English village with the majority of its inhabitants depending almost entirely on the soil and its products for their livelihood. Perhaps the best known of all these Tadley woodworkers was the broom squire who utilised local local raw materials to produce the famous Tadley besom or birch broom."

I'm planning to make a besom. I have grown the birch and need only to collect the twigs and bind them. I've cut and seasoned the hazel pole for the handle. Reading the book has alerted me to the use of bramble as a binder. I'm going to give that a go as well, not for the besom, but for straw (winter-grown is harder'), next season.


Ray said...

Why not just make it from broom as there is no need to to damage your birch trees
I know trees don't grow that well in Riverton (thanks to the wind) but I would be surprised to hear that broom isn't thriving

robertguyton said...

Brooms from broom, eh! Who'd have thought?
It's a good suggestion, Ray, though I don't know how well broom performs compared with birch as a sweeping tool. I have though, a birch that is growing far too vigorously and needs to be pruned. This besom business might provide a good use for the twiggery.