Bodgers – A Project on England

As initial research I read ‘The Lost Village: In Search of Forgotten Rural England’, a work by Richard Askwith. In an account with a local villager, Mr. Pitt of Stoke Row, there is mention of a form of village industry that I hadn’t yet heard of. In the years after the war, those without houses or a means of living in the surrounding villages moved to areas of woodland and set up small homes in makeshift huts. These huts also held small craft businesses, although the conditions were less than ideal, with walls often made from the wood shavings made from the processes.

Blacksmith Albert Nash inhabited a more complete space and worked as a Farrier until the seizure of workshops like these by Allied Forces during the war, either as places for continued production or to be used as POW camps for opposing forces found in England.

I thought it reasonable to assume that there must have been a similar industry in the area I live, on the border of Hampshire and West Sussex, and sought information in local parishes. I found a man named David Coldwell, who had researched the topic further, and he said he’d find a means of bringing me along to one of his often successful spots when looking for old artefacts.

The area he knew of was used in more or less exactly the same manner as the account found in The Lost Village. He informed me that the local Parishioners in a nearby village called Compton set up the basic amenities to sustain a fairly normal way of life throughout the war, with a series of workshops and spaces that allowed for repairs to be made and parts and objects to be made to ensure the general maintenance of the home. He knew where to go and occasionally dug small spots to see if he found anything by chance.

Mr Coldwell mapped the area, unusual but he insisted as I had camera in hand, and the hole slowly grew in length and breadth until he found a small bowl. There was a pole lathe on the site, and we were both fairly certain that this was a work left behind from the process. we dug some more and found a rougher discard too.

I assume that the maker was rather particularly as both pieces still seem perfectly usable, but pride maintains high standards. I’d like to thank David, and suggest you that a bit of a delve into village history to see if there are any interesting artefacts waiting to be found.

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