2019 Rural Craft Winner Russell randall pictured with his son, Christopher

Our Rural Craft competition has been introduced to recognise craftsmen and women living within a twenty mile radius of Melplash Church and who derive their livelihood or a greater part of it from their craft.  The competition has been created by Mrs Elizabeth Gale, former Chairman and Secretary to the Melplash Agricultural Society, in memory of her late husband, Guy Gale.

“Last year we had a wonderful cross section of crafts entered including hedgers, thatchers, potters and wheelwrights.  It would be fantastic to get a similar number and range this year.”  said Mrs Elizabeth Gale

Guy Gale was a Master Thatcher in Dorset for over fifty years, Chairman of the Dorset Master Thatchers’ Association and an executive on the UK committee.  He took a great pride in his work and could run his hand to other skills such as hurdle making, woodcraft, stone walling, bee-skep making and hedging.  He enjoyed sheep shearing by hand which he practised on some of his own flock of Polled Dorsets and Ile de France sheep when farming at Salway Ash over forty two years.  Hand sheep clippers are used both in shearing and thatching.  Guy Gale served on the Melplash Agricultural Society executive committee and was at one time chairman of the sheep section.  He was always on the field during show week in all weathers assisting in getting everything ready for show day.  He died in January 2009.

The winner of the Rural Craft Award will be presented with the Guy Gale Perpetual Memorial Trophy and £100 prize money.  The trophy has been made by Simon Grant-Jones, blacksmith, specialist toolmaker and lecturer at the Dorset College of Agriculture.  A prize of £50 & certificate will be awarded to the second place winner.

If you would like to enter our 2020 Rural Craft competition please complete an entry form by clicking here.

2019 Results

This  year’s judges were the 2018 Rural Craft Winner Mr Richard Wilson and Mrs Jackie Norman.  The Steward was Mr Stuart Gay.

The Winner receives The Guy Gale Perpetual Memorial Trophy, a complimentary trade stand at the Melplash Show and £100.  The runner up receives £50.

1st:  Mr Russell Randall, Wheelwright from Litton Cheney

2nd:  Mr Robert Fielding, Blacksmith from Langton Herring

3rd:  Mr Russell Woodham, Hedgelayer from Hampton near Dorchester.

4th:  Mrs Joanne Sadler, Willow Sculptor from Misterton

A wheelwright is a craftsman who makes and/or repairs wooden wheels. Interestingly, the craft is amongst the oldest known to man with the origins of the wheel dating back to prehistoric times.  A wooden wheel today generally consists of three main parts, the hub at the centre of the wheel, the spokes radiating out from the centre and the rims around the outside.  Generally, the wheel will be bound by a steel or an iron tyre depending on its historical period and purpose.

Russell has been involved in the trade for some 40 years.  He started as an apprentice joiner and then joined the family tradition and learnt the skill of wheelwright from his father, as his father did before him.   His son, Christopher is the 6th generation in the family to take up the skill.   Russell makes and repairs wooden wheels for horse drawn vehicles with many customers from the South of England. His reputation has been built purely by word of mouth, he has never advertised, and social media is something he would rather not know about!

“‘I am very pleased and proud to have won this year’s craft competition.  Not only does it recognise my work as a wheelwright but also celebrates our family’s long association with the craft” said Russell.

Russell will be receiving the Guy Gale Perpetual Trophy at the Melplash Show on 22 August.  The trophy will be presented by competition sponsor Simon Scott of Simon Scott Electrical Limited.