the wheelwright’s shop

The wood-worker who made barrels was going, if the tin-worker was coming.  From that industry, at any rate, old skill was “getting the push.”  And the wood-worker was going, or at any rate his ancient provincial skill was falling obsolete, not only as to the utensils and materials I bought for my shop but likewise as to the things made there…

For, when one reads of the folk-wandering of the prehistoric tribes, and learns how some of the tribes migrated, say from western Asia all across Europe—in wagons, then it is a puzzle what those wagons could have been like…

Everything about a wooden axle and its wheels seemed to imply a long-settled population.  How could nomadic tribes have accumulated, I will not say the experience, but even the material required?  It was not any timber that would serve or even any beech; but to get the right stuff involved throwing and “opening” a tree at the right season, and on the right soil too.  Did the wandering barbarians cart a sawpit along with them? Or a stock of seasoning timber, or a stock of it seasoned?  Did they take benches, wheel-pits, the requisite axes and chisels and handsaws?  Or, if not, how did the wandering tribes come trailing over Europe? Or how many thousand years did they spend upon the migration, building villages, gathering traditions of handicraft, seeming to settle down, and then off again?  Such things of course I shall never know…

George Sturt,  The Wheelwright’s Shop 1923, Cambridge

About michaellangford2012

Timber framer, boatbuilder, dreamer, writer, musician; collector of books, tools, aphorisms. "There is nothing, absolutely nothing…half so much worth doing…as simply messing about in boats."
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