Sunday, 8 August 2010

Bodgers & Skivers & Shoddy Goods
In the years BG - Before Gecko - when I was a child growing up in the Chilterns, we were surrounded by beech trees and High Wycombe was the centre of chair making. We used to make camps in the woods and from time to time we came across the evidence of previous occupation.
In particular the Bodgers - men who lived in the woods and made chairs using foot operated lathes. I have seen the modern incarnation of these craftsmen at craft fairs since then and cannot understand why the term bodger has become a derogatory one.

In a later incarnation when I was buying leather goods and visiting factories I often marvelled at the skill of the Skiver who removed the top layer of leather for processing.

When, in the early 20th century, cotton manufacturing in Lancashire found itself uncompetitive in world markets some milsl like the one we visited recently in Helmshore started processing Shoddy - yarn made from scrap. From this they produced everyday household items such as tea-towels in addition to calico. The process of recovering this material produced a fibre of short staple which was unsuitable for weaving fine fabric but was ideal for the more mundane household requirements.

Why have such worthwhile activities as Bodging, Skiving and Shoddy production developed such derogatory connotations?

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