Rural Industries Before the Railways (E Worcs and W Warks)
with Richard Churchley
Thursday 26 October 2017
Over the course of the evening, Richard Churchley painted a fascinating picture of the countryside between Reddich, Henley and Coughton in the 18th and early 19th centuries. it was a thriving centre for many industries: everyone from needle-making (of which Mr Churchley has a particular interest) to weaving. There were several mills and, of course, many breweries.
A particular topic was the making of wooden cart-wheels, and the care and expertise needed to make each par of the wheel. The spokes – subtly shaped to cope with the stresses involved – are fitted to the hub and three or more felloes fixed around the rim. Finally the whole is “tied” together with a device – originally a series of wooden laths and later a singly band of iron – called a tie-er or tyre.
Paradoxically, these industrial enterprises were ended with the coming of the railways, when the local folk found it more profitable to turn to agriculture and food production, firstly to feed the armies of railway construction workers and then to use the railways to market around the country. For example, of the many industries around Spernall, almost nothing remains except the ruins of some buildings in the fields around the bridge.