The making of bits, bridles, spurs, stirrups and the minor metal items of a horse’s harness, together with the saddle tree.
|Historic area of significance
|Area currently practised
|Origin in the UK
|Walsall and London
|Current no. of professionals (main income)
29 people at Abbey England making a wide range of lorinery items
6 people (approx) at W Thacker making harness ornaments
6-10 companies making saddle trees
|Current no. of professionals (sideline to main income)
|Current no. of trainees
|Current total no. serious amateur makers
The nineteenth century was a time of expansion for manufacturing in Walsall . Britain’s expanding overseas empire as well as her involvement in the Napoleonic Wars led to a demand for all types of lorinery products made in the town.
In the twentieth century saw a decline of the lorinery trade There was a brief resurgence of fortunes during the First World War owing to the need to keep the cavalry and horse-drawn artillery well supplied. However, after that, many firms diversified or turned over to making metal parts for motorcar bodies.
The trade in Walsall, and indeed Great Britain as a whole, has declined dramatically since then. The explosion in the use of the horse for leisure purposes over the last thirty years or so has benefited the saddlery trade, but not the loriners.
However a few companies are still carrying on the tradition of producing high-quality lorinery items in Walsall, West Midlands.
- Drop forging
Historically, the name “loriner” only applied to those who hand forged their products. However, casting, drop forging and electro-plating processes have almost entirely taken over from hand forging and “loriner” has now come to mean anyone who is engaged in the production of saddlers’ ironmongery.
Lorinery includes a wide variety of ironmongery including bits, buckles, stirrups, snaffles etc.
Issues affecting the viability of the craft
- Market issues: the decline in the use of horses for transport and working has led to decline in demand for lorinery
- Competition from overseas markets: British firms cannot compete with the low production costs of countries like South Korea, India and China. The majority of saddlers’ ironmongery is now therefore imported. The one exception to this has been saddle tree manufacturing and here the British makers have seen a boom. There are currently ten companies in Walsall making saddle trees, compared to three in 1985.
Craftspeople currently known
Saddle tree makers
- Ideal & WRS saddle company Ltd
- Albion Saddlemakers
- Vale Brothers
- Black Country Saddles
- Lightwood Saddle Company
- Worshipful Company of Loriners: https://www.loriner.co.uk/lorinery/lorinery-history