Swill basket making
The making of swill baskets, made from woven strips of cleft oak.
|Historic area of significance||Cumbria|
|Area currently practised||Cumbria|
|Origin in the UK|
|Minimum no. of craftspeople required|
|Current no. of trainees|
|Current no. of skilled craftspeople||2|
|Current total no. of craftspeople||2|
Oak Swill baskets are traditional to the southern Lake District and have been made for centuries. Their origins are unclear, but it is likely that they evolved as a cottage industry which then expanded after the industrial revolution into a trade in its own right. Swills were used on coal steamships, in mines, mills, ironworks and many other industries. They also had farm and domestic uses, but declined rapidly in the post-war years with the rise in mechanisation and plastics.
Owen Jones MBE making a swill basket. Photo: Robin Wood
Issues affecting the viability of the craft
Craftspeople currently known
Owen Jones – practises in the Lake District. The only full-time oak swill basket maker in Britain. Taught by John Barker.
Lorna Singleton – practises in the Lake District. Taught by Owen Jones.