The last riddle maker in Britain
There was a time when riddles were an essential garden accessory for every gardener and northern England was riddled with riddle makers. But now riddle makers are an endangered species. The only survivor is Damien Bramhall who recently took over the business from Mike Turnock, who made riddles all his life.
Mike's Dad, Fred Turnock, bought the business (Hill & Sons) in 1948. In those days he employed a staff of 12 and British Rail was the biggest customer, using sieves to sift ballast between tracks.
Nowadays Damien works with a partner, sawing, steaming and rolling the beech rims into perfect circles in his workshop in Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire. Once in shape the circles take a few days to dry before being wired. For the larger meshes, Damien unravels the coil of wire along the workshop floor then threads it through the rim by hand, using a special tool that pushes the wire up and the next down.
A recent customer commented, "The quality of construction and attention to detail [the pencil marks and inscribed 'size' details and so on] are everything that mark out proper craftsmanship..."