'Hides lifted from a lime-pit were soaked for days, scraped and ‘bated’ in solutions of dog excrement and ground bark before hanging up to dry.'

You ancient company
of skinners and glovers,
you gossiping crafts.

You hatters and tanners,
leather-dressers and cutters,
we can hear you and sniff you in Hexham’s dank lanes.

You clockmakers and bookbinders,
pipemakers and joiners,
we touch your worksore hands.

You shoemakers and collarmakers,
weavers and saddlers,
we bear your burdens and your smiles.

You dressmakers,
Tinsmiths and
butchers and

You 1000 sewing women in your homes,
you bakers and tapestry-makers,
you’ve led us here -

we worship you,
we drink your sweat.


'Hexham had a leather trade of some antiquity, and it was certainly important in the 17th century. In the early 19th century about 1,200 out of Hexham's 6,000 inhabitants were involved in the leather trades. One firm alone made 50 dozen [pairs?] of gloves per week, and the overall total was 23,504 dozen [pairs?] per year in 1823, using some 98,000 skins. The Hexham glove making industry was heavily dependent upon outwork. There were, in 1823, 71 men and boys employed as leather dressers and glove cutters, 40 boys employed as dusters, and 1000 women in Hexham and the surrounding area were employed in domestic outwork i.e. sewing. The tanneries which mainly supplied the glovers only employed about 20 people.

The gloves, known as ‘Hexham Tans', were being mainly sent to the London Market, and then re-exported to America. However, during the course of the 19th century Hexham failed to develop machine cutting and sewing on the factory system, and glove making became yet another urbanised industry, especially in Leeds.'

the jingling geordie

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whitley bay, tyne and wear, United Kingdom
poet and raconteur