Aldermaston Businesses- Cricket Bats

The businesses’ current proprietor is John Surridge. His grandfather, Percy Stuart Surridge, purchased the farm when the whole Aldermaston estate was sold in 1939, calculating that the willow trees alone were worth more than the asking price.  Somewhat later, a family member who worked for bat-makers Lilywhite Frowd felt that he could make a better bat and started the business of Stuart Surridge, firstly in Westmorland Street in London but subsequently moved to Essex.

The cutting business started in the 1960’s and when Surridge’s business was sold in around 2000 the saws were brought down to Aldermaston.  The clefts are now sold around the world, especially to India, for finishing.

For Surridge’s website, see

https://www.surridgewillow.co.uk/

 

 

This display of crafting a traditional cricket bat and its handle can be admired in the Hinds head.
A batch of carefully- selected willow trees arrives. Many come from the grounds of The Old Mill, less than a mile away. Each tree can make around 40 bats.
Peter Oldridge
The willow trees have been cut onto 70cm "rounds", each of which can yield 10-12 bats
Peter Oldridges
A willow "round" is marked out for splitting
In this historic photograph, David Luker and Martin Cooper split a "round" in the traditional way. The same kind of mallet can be seen in the next photo.
Willow "Splits" for cricket bats in the foreground. The sawn shaped "Clefts" in the background are stacked to dry and season.
After the Round is split, Phil runs the split through the saw for the first time.
Peter Oldridge
Phil runs the split through for the last time to produce the cleft
Peter Oldridge
After sawing and rough hewing, the willow is shaped before going into the kiln to dry.
Peter Oldridge
One of the drying Kilns in action- the Clefts are dried to around 12% in these kilns.
Peter Oldridge
Leading cricketer Graham Gooch pictured during a visit to the Aldermaston sawmill to inspect his new bat.

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