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The hurdle makers

Alan & Steve Brown

Wool / Dorset
01929 462761

Filmed on location in coppice woods at Druce Farm, near Puddletown, Dorset.

Dates of filming: 20th September 2006

Ancient crafts with a modern use keep coppice woodland active. The challenge is how to make a living from these products at the price that customers are prepared to pay. Cheap foreign imports are a serious threat to the home producer.

Wattle hurdles were once vital to farmers, particularly in the southern counties of England. Hurdles provided a simple, cheap and portable system of fencing for sheep. They were made from hazel rods, so wherever there were sheep and hurdles, areas of hazel coppice, and the ancient craft of hurdle making, would be found close by.

Today that craft has almost disappeared as the farming use of hurdles has practically gone. But a few hurdle makers survive because there is a steady demand for hurdles as garden fencing – though even that market is threatened by the availability of cheap imports from other parts of Europe.

Alan Brown’s family has been making hurdles in Dorset for generations. His son Steve followed in the same tradition but has since taken other employment because he needed a more reliable source of income to support a young family.

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