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Hawkridge wheelwright

Interior of a typical wheelwright's shop.

John Lock of Hawkridge claimed in 1933 to be the oldest wheelwright on Exmoor. He was born c. 1860 in Hawkridge the son of carpenter William Lock who had moved to the parish from Twitchen and married a local woman. In 1901 John was in business beside the school. His house was also the local post office, probably run by his wife. John was still working as a wheelwright on the eve of the 2nd World War when he was nearly 80.

The wheelwright was essential in any agricultural community maintaining the farm carts as well as doing general carpentry and sometimes making coffins, packing cases and other wooden items. The wheelwright's shop was often situated near busy road junctions and close to a smithy, which would supply and fit the iron tyres to the cart wheels. The wheelwright's job was highly skilled including shaping the spokes and felloes that made up the wheel, often by eye without taking measurements.

Content generated during research for the paperback book 'Exmoor: The making of an English Upland' (ISBN 13 : 978-1-86077-597-0 ) for the England's Past for Everyone series

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