Did you know that Uk traditional crafts are not classed as art or heritage! I'm proud to have become a recent member of the Heritage Crafts Association, who are working really hard to tackle this and safeguard these crafts for the future!
Sadly the craft of Withy Pot making is listed among many others, in the Heritage Crafts Red List of Endangered Crafts. I don't know about you, but I think Withy pots are beautiful and they certainly form an important part in my partners family and our children's heritage!
My partners father Kenneth (Kenny) Thomas and grandfather Tommy Thomas were both fisherman based in Penberth Cove, Cornwall. Tommy was a withy pot maker and his pots were used by himself and Kenny.
Now here's something you might not associate with fishermen and that's flowers!!! In the winter months, when the weather was too rough to be out at sea, they grew violets. The family and other households were involved in picking, bunching and packing the violets into bunches of 14 or 16, which were neatly laid out in boxes and sent to Covent Garden in London, which were often purchased to be worn as posies! Their journey began by bus and the driver then delivered them to Penzance train station. Kenny wasn't so keen on working with violets! he much preferred his work at sea!
Sadly Tommy passed away in 1969, however he had passed on his knowledge of making 'Porthleven Style' pots to a fishermen called Robert George. Richard Ede, was taught the same style of pot, known as 'Porthleven Style' by David Chappel and Richard still makes them today in St. Ives, Cornwall! Apparently he might have a few stories to tell about Kenny, which I'm looking forward to learning about at some point along with more detail about the Porthleven Style pots! :)
Oh and if you want to learn a bit more about the valuable information about the Heritage Crafts Association Red List here is the link https://heritagecrafts.org.uk/redlist/
Thanks for reading!
A huge thank you to Kathi Jones for sharing your families stories and photographs with me.
Penprase, J, Penprase, D. (2014?) Salt of the Earth. The fishermens friends. https://www.fishermensmission.org.uk/news/salt-of-the-earth/
Image 3. https://grovesnurseries.co.uk/violets