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Report - - Beebee & Beebee, Crown Saddle Tree Works, Walsall | Industrial Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Beebee & Beebee, Crown Saddle Tree Works, Walsall



dweeb

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#1
As I have said in previous reports, Walsall was once the centre of the leather working industry in Britain. The firms originated as loiners (saddle ironmongers) but changed to leather craft when laces, both shoe and other came into general use, as it severely damaged the buckle trade. Until then every shoe and saddle had needed buckles!

Most of the leather firms in Victorian times manufactured saddles. If you think about it, every tram, delivery cart, plough, and carriage was drawn by a horse. They only moved into fancy goods and such like when the general use of horses began to decline with the influx of motor traction. Some saddlers, the ones who were able to stay in business were fortunate enough to see a rise in the number of sales from the 1960's onward as riding horses for pleasure became very popular. Beebee and Beebee was one of those firms.

Beebee is a typical small scale firm, that made the saddle trees (which is the frame beneath the saddle. So in fact they were not a leather firm at all, more a carpenters. But they were a direct supplier of the leather trade.

The works is small and ancient, based around a tiny house on the road. The works is then joined onto the back of the house and is a number of small brick and iron sheds. Little has changed inside for many many years. Tools such as the vices and saddlers lasts are probably a century old, and were still used up until the 2000's. I feel privileged to have seen a leather works in this state of preservation. It was not a year ago Raddog and I said we were too late too see anything good from that industry.

The original works
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The later works, as it stands today
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A leather apron, still in the position it was left in, thick with dust and cobwebs
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Ever seen the programme Kinky Boots? About a Northampton shoe firm that is struggling and has to go into producing stripper shoes. It seems Walsall's leather industry followed suit:eek:
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The office. Note the beautiful ceiling rose discarded for the strip light:wanker
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A "deep throated" vice:p
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Leather apron, worn by years and years of work.
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