Last Friday, I got a last minute invitation to run a bowl turning demonstration at the Malvern Autumn Show at the Three Counties Showground near Malvern. I was glad that I had been lazy and not unpacked the van from my previous demo, since it was a 5am start for me to get there and set up in time!
The showground is huge and there are a lot of people that come to see the sights on offer. I was in the forestry area which was running demonstrations all day. There was a nice variety of things on show from chestnut cleaving demos by my friends Toby and Aly to a guy showing his skills on a £300,000 forwarder.
The chaps that interested me the most was Hadley & Sons who were set up behind me with a collection of vintage forestry gear, an immense collection of old chainsaws and some nice old trucks. They were running a steam felling saw for most of the day and also firing up a formerly steam driven (now diesel powered) table saw. It was really nice to see people keeping these machines in working order and it drew a lot of interest from the crowds.
Apart from talking to the punters and watching the cool demos going on, the thing that I enjoyed the most was meeting Stanley Clarke. Stanley was a ladder maker who started his apprenticeship in 1954 at the age of 14. He had just spent a day at Elvaston Castle with Robin Wood and Steve Tomlin, helping to teach a ladder making workshop for the Heritage Craft Association. Rob and Steve spent a few days with him in August, learning the skills necessary to make wooden ladders. You can read Robins blog about it here. I had a really nice chat with him and his wife. It was inspiring to listen to his stories and about how much he wishes he could still make ladders. I was suprised to see him there, since it is a fair way from where he lives, but he said that he has been going to that show for 60 years and used to sell his ladders there. Eying up the 100ft climbing poles that were on site, he reckoned that they would be better as a ladder. The HCA will be making a video and producing learning resources based on Stanley’s knowledge and skills, so keep an eye out.
I didn’t really have much time to walk around the showground site, but it seemed like a really nice and really popular show. Lots of things for everyone to look at. I hope to be returning there to demonstrate at the shows there next year.