My maternal grandfather, Asher Gregory, was skilled in a range of woodland and country crafts. Hedge-layering, thatching, and coppicing. Inextricably linked to the latter, was hurdle-making.
Grandfather (on the left) is seen here, in conversation with fellow hurdle-maker, Reg Cole. I think this photograph was taken in Deeps Copse, near Owslebury, Hampshire. Asher would have been approaching 70 around this time. He had a little pick-up he drove to work although, for many years beforehand, he rode a motorcycle, with a rickety wooden box attached to where the sidecar should have been.
Here, you can see a hazel hurdle 'in progress'. The uprights, held firm in a heavy wooden mould on the copse floor. The split lengths that would eventually be woven around the uprights, are laying against the rail to the right of the picture. In the foreground and, in the clearing to the left, the hazel stumps are clearly visible. The wood is ready for cutting every seven years.
Very little was left to waste. By-products included bundles of pea sticks and bean sticks/poles. There was always a considerable market for these, in the days when most country-dwellers grew their own vegetables. I remember how I was fascinated with the way grandfather tied up his bundles with lengths of twisted, green hazel. His hands were so calloused, there was no need for protective gloves.