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Saddle Fiends: Pilgrimage to Walsall, UK?

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  • Saddle Fiends: Pilgrimage to Walsall, UK?

    So I'll be in London for work and a bit of play afterward.

    Of the various monuments I could travel to see, don't you think a trip to Walsall-- the Mecca of British saddlery-- counts as a must see?


    I understand Walsall is an industrial town, grotty and all. But can it be done? Have you made the pilgrimage? Worth doing?

    Walsall Riding Saddle Co. (venerable manufactures of original Crosbys, modern Crosbys and Exselle saddles) is there. So is Black Country. I'd like to see where County saddles are built, too.
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat

  • #2
    I would TOTALLY do it!
    If we have to nail on talent, it's not talent.
    Founder, Higher Standards Leather Care Addicts Anonymous

    Comment


    • #3
      Wow yes, a mecca! Maybe you can get a factory tour?

      If you do it, put it all on flickr

      Comment


      • #4
        You're right, it's not the most beautiful of towns Would you be driving or getting the train? I've just looked on the National Rail site and you can get from London Euston to Walsall in a couple of hours, with 1 change. No idea where the station is in relation to anything else, though!

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        • #5
          Oh my, perhaps they have FACTORY STORES!! Mismatched leather for the flaps? 70% off! Billet holes a bit off? That's a 30% discount.

          Go!! Can I hide in your suitcase?
          I realize that I'm generalizing here, but as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care. ~ Dave Barry

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            When in Rome....

            OK, everyone but Guin, stop teasing me.

            This is serious business. In the 19th century, people made the Grand Tour of Europe either when they came of age or got married. The trip let everyone see (but also buy) just about every product of Cultural Importance they might need to enter adulthood. The tour invariably ended in Rome, reaching a crescendo as one got to the very epicenter of Western Culture. If you toured Europe and didn't go to Rome, well, I don't know what kind of idiot you were.

            See why I need to go to Walsall? And I'd figure out how to drive in order to do it.
            The armchair saddler
            Politically Pro-Cat

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            • #7
              I would want to see the Sedgewick and Hadfields factories while there too.

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              • #8
                Walsall may be a grotty suburb of Birmingham. But there is some pretty countryside just north of there- including the place they found the Staffordshire Hoard
                Janet

                chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

                Comment


                • #9
                  hey MVP while you're there can ya pick me up a County Stabilizer? K thanks!

                  On a serious note...I think that would be extremely interesting if they let you tour the factories. I would love to see a saddle being crafted and learn about the history.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    You might also try Kings Saddlery http://www.kingsaddlery.co.uk/index.htm
                    Janet

                    chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by BAC View Post
                      I would want to see the Sedgewick and Hadfields factories while there too.
                      Originally posted by Janet View Post
                      You might also try Kings Saddlery http://www.kingsaddlery.co.uk/index.htm
                      You see! A total Mecca. Great tack packed in cheek to jowl.

                      Originally posted by Janet View Post
                      Walsall may be a grotty suburb of Birmingham. But there is some pretty countryside just north of there- including the place they found the Staffordshire Hoard
                      Yeah.... and.... your point? But I think I'd see a Hoard. What is that?

                      Originally posted by KateKat View Post
                      hey MVP while you're there can ya pick me up a County Stabilizer? K thanks!

                      On a serious note...I think that would be extremely interesting if they let you tour the factories. I would love to see a saddle being crafted and learn about the history.
                      On an equally serious note. If I could stand there with the leather, tree and saddler, I'd order up what I wanted. I'd buy "souvenirs" for friends, too. Pay US retail for a saddle rep who may or may not do a better job? I might not buy from the company at all.

                      Money would change hands.

                      Look, if Krispie Kreme has an effing red light in their parking lot that turns on when fresh batch of donuts is out....

                      If breweries and distilleries can tolerate visits from their fan club, I don't see why tackeries wouldn't open their doors, too.

                      Money would change hands. Did you get that part?

                      But I don't know *how* to crash Walsall factories. I could get drunk first. Oh, wait, wrong context. But then what?
                      The armchair saddler
                      Politically Pro-Cat

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Cool idea! Wish I could go with!

                        I know that Berney Brothers (both the Kildare and the Enniscorthy versions) give factory tours, as does Devoucoux. But alas, those are in Ireland and France.

                        Frank Baines, Classic (formerly Rembrandt), and some other brands that are not coming to my mind ATM are built in Walsall too.
                        Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by mvp View Post
                          Yeah.... and.... your point? But I think I'd see a Hoard. What is that?
                          http://www.staffordshirehoard.org.uk/

                          (From Wikipedia)"The Staffordshire Hoard is the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold yet found. Discovered in a field near the village of Hammerwich, near Lichfield, in Staffordshire, England on 5 July 2009, it consists of more than 1,500 items that are nearly all martial in character. The artefacts have tentatively been dated to the 7th or 8th centuries...The hoard was valued at £3.285 million, and has now been purchased by the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery."
                          Janet

                          chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by mvp View Post
                            But I don't know *how* to crash Walsall factories. I could get drunk first. Oh, wait, wrong context. But then what?
                            Call and ask politely.
                            Janet

                            chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I'm not sure if this helps you or not, but I know that Leonard with Gayer's Saddlery in Upper Marlboro, MD usually travels to England every year to visit the saddle makers and to buy new saddles. You could possibly give him a call and see if he has any suggestions or recommendations of which ones would be good to visit and/or if they will let you in. (Though, frankly, I can't see why they wouldn't.) Just a thought... I hope it works out for you!
                              "I was not expecting the park rangers to lead the resistance, none of the dystopian novels I read prepared me for this but cool."

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Update--- It's harder than it looks.

                                I'm on a train to Scotland right now, having e-mailed some people who might know and was told that factory visits aren't done.

                                Companies aren't set up to sell direct. So my visit would be a disruption.

                                Employees, on the other hand, would be "happy" to entertain a "female" visitor... so my visit would be a disruption in another way.

                                Walsall does, however, sport a Leather Museum. Should I spend some time on trains and go?

                                And a little googling reveals more: You can just about throw a rock from the Leather Museum to WSR. You could also make a tour of other leather museums-- flying from England, to Germany to Spain for those.

                                Working hard on R&D for y'all.
                                The armchair saddler
                                Politically Pro-Cat

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I've always wanted to do what you're trying to do, so I very much appreciate the updates! Hope you get to poke your nose in the door of at least one while you're there!
                                  "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    definitely go! the guy who's making my saddle here in LA, and his apprentice, are both originally from walsall

                                    you should call and ask him if he knows anyone there who will give you an insider tour - tell him you read about him on the forums and kristie from california said to call. lol - he's super nice. i'm sure he'd be tickled to give you a contact!

                                    his number is on his website: superiorsaddlery.com
                                    **************
                                    http://img.skitch.com/20100717-q91i7...u2ub8k6b15.jpg

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