10 months ago

This England

This England is the quarterly magazine for all who love our green and pleasant land and are unashamedly proud of their English roots. Published since 1968 the magazine has now become one of England’s best loved magazines and has a readership of over 115,000 people from around the world. As well as being popular in England it outsells all other British heritage magazines in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and is sent to readers in every country of the world. Published in Cheltenham, in the heart of picturesque Gloucestershire, the magazine is edited, printed and despatched direct from England. Subscribe today and celebrate all that is best about England and the English way of life.


In England — NOW! Celebrating English achievement, enterprise and creativity in the 21st century A Rescue Centre… for Rocking Horses Aspecial pleasure for me when as a child I was staying with cousins who lived some 60 miles away was to be invited to have a ride on the old rocking horse kept stored in their top-floor attic. Dapple, as they had called him because of his colouring, was very good-natured, later even putting up with the weight of young teenagers who liked to treat the attic as their retreat. Dapple was fortunate, for having been kept stored safely away, warm and dry, he remained in good condition and was ready and waiting to be introduced in due course to my cousins’ own children and to provide pleasure for a second generation. Not all these family favourites enjoyed such a favourable retirement. They could be banished to an outdoor “stable” as the children grew up, sharing a garden shed with various bicycles, lawnmowers and the like, until the thought occurred to the family that perhaps he — or she — could be just the means of entertaining visiting grandchildren. However long the interval of time, a means of rehabilitation is available — supplied by a rocking-horse restorer such as Beatrice Legay, whose Tetbury Rocking Horse Works in Gloucestershire offers just that service. Beatrice started her specialist business nine years ago — actually in Stroud, a short distance from Tetbury. “It is quite a niche market,” she says, “and I am kept busy seven days a week.” She also makes new rocking horses, for which she has her own particular style. “I shape the head to give the horse a kind of turn of the 19th- to 20thcentury style, with a rather narrow head like that of a greyhound, as that was the way artists were picturing horses at that time,” she says. The horses on which she works may well be of that vintage. They come to her of all ages, sizes, and from all parts of the country. “I gain a lot of business through clients seeing my advertising on my website,” Beatrice is pleased to say. “They make contact and either they come to see me or I take samples of my work to them so that they can see what restoration can achieve.” Is that a heavy task for her, loading and unloading the horses into her transport? “Not at all,” she says, “They are much lighter than you think, as the bodies are usually hollow.” This lovely example was made by a German POW. Beatrice is French but has lived in England since the age of 19, and this is where she wants to stay. It was here that she began the greater part of her working life, but having gone on to marry and have a family it was not until the youngest of her five children was old enough for her to return to combining family life with her career that she took up carpentry seriously. “My work has always been craftinspired,” she says. “When it was time to return to the world of work I took formal training at the Women’s Workshop in Birmingham in carpentry and other practical skills. That was absolutely brilliant. “I went on to take a course at South Birmingham College which covered a variety of trade skills — carpentry, plumbing, painting and decorating, tiling, plastering and bricklaying. I studied up to a level three City and Guilds certificate in carpentry. “When I started working I did anything — changing windows, doors, working on kitchens and bathrooms, any size project. I have always worked mainly on my own as when you have small children you have to work around your own family commitments,” she explains. This was also the reason that she decided it would be helpful if she could make her home her working base, and it resulted in the launch of Tetbury Rocking Horse Works. Carpentry is very much a part of the restoration process. “The Above: A rocking horse in need of repair like those (left) in the “hospital”. Right: A restored rocking horse which was made originally by the renowned company of F.H. Ayres. 16 THIS ENGLAND, Winter, 2017

Beatrice at work. horses I work on are mostly of wood,” says Beatrice, “but I also restore those of fibre-glass or metal, or of fur-fabric or cowhide on a framework. If they arrive in very poor condition, they may need to be reconstructed. When in that state they are not really worth anything, but back to the condition in which they should be, as they were in their heyday, they will definitely increase in value, and do so even more over time. “People may have had rocking horses stored away, then suddenly happen to notice them and wonder whether they might be of some value,” she observes. The answer is that they certainly can be. This is when the conditions in which they had been stored comes into play. They need to be “re-acclimated” by being moved from outdoors to back indoors — returned from a damp atmosphere to a drier one. “This stage will need to be for at least six months,” says Beatrice. “The horses will need to be really dry before I start work on them.” The cost of restoration depends of course on the condition in which the rocking horses arrive; prices start from around £850 to £1,200. If the customer would like to commission Beatrice to make them a brand-new rocking horse, this cost will be within a range of £1,600 to £3,500 depending on the size and other features. The showroom in Tetbury. “I make the body and head of my rocking horses in Quebec pine, a timber that is quite light, shiny and doesn’t move in atmospheric conditions,” she says. “For the legs I use beechwood, for strength. But this wood has to be treated immediately with protection from woodworm, to which beech is particularly vulnerable. I find that the pine is nice to carve, and for developing the shape. “As regards size, they can be from 30 to 60 inches high, that is on the stand to the highest point of the horse, the tips of its ears.” The manes and tails are made from real horse hair, the colour toning with that of the coat as closely as possible. “The colours are according to commission,” says Beatrice. “But my horses are mainly dapple-grey, although I also have a beautiful brown that looks so natural that you seem almost to feel the texture of the horse’s coat.” In her showroom Beatrice might have six or seven rocking horses that she has made out on display. With those in need of restoration she can have a “stable” of more than 20 at Tetbury Rocking Horse Works. She manages to accommodate them all, however, despite some of her materials having taken over housespace. “My living-room is now my tackroom and my conservatory my room for painting,” she explains. “I have a great big shed that is my machine-room, a small room off this for storage, and my showroom is a separate room attached.” Although most of Beatrice’s clients are from this country, one of her restored rocking horses has now gone to a new home in Australia. “It belonged to a family over here who didn’t have enough space for this enormous horse, so their daughter who lives in Sydney offered to have it for her own family to enjoy,” she relates. “The cost was almost as great as that for the restoration, with it having to travel in a special crate and the transit having to conform to all the regulations.” Doubtless, however, when this rocking horse, like those which go back to a United Kingdom home, joins its family it will receive a welcome that makes that cost well worthwhile. HILARY GRAY Further Information Tetbury Rocking Horse Works, Rooksmoor Mills, Bath Road, Stroud, Gloucestershire GL5 5ND. Tel: 01453 873853 The English News At a race meeting at Great Yarmouth in July, a horse with odds of 50-1 beat the hot favourite — only for stewards to discover that the surprise winner, Mandarin Princess, was in fact her much better stablemate Millie’s Kiss. A combination of errors had led to the wrong horse being saddled and entered in the race. Police in Newquay in Cornwall discovered that a beggar they arrested made on average £200 a day — equivalent to an annual salary of £73,000. A few days before the annual rubber duck race at Brockham in Surrey, locals were shocked when one of the much-fancied competitors — Doris — was stolen. For his wedding during the summer, Rich Seagrove and his best man wore bright yellow suits while the bridesmaids wore black: the colours of Burton Albion, the football-mad groom’s favourite football team. The hall near Ripley in Derbyshire where the reception was held was decorated in black and yellow and on each table was a photograph of a Burton Albion “legend”. A five-year-old girl, selling lemonade to passers-by from a stall outside her home in the London borough of Tower Hamlets, was reduced to tears after a council enforcement officer presented her with a fixed penalty notice for trading without a licence and demanded payment of £150. Following a complaint from the girl’s father, common sense did eventually prevail and the council issued an apology. THIS ENGLAND, Winter, 2017 17

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