Spotlight on Branscombe lace-making families

A FASCINATING book tracing the history of lace-making in Branscombe, which has been out of print for several years, will be re-launched in the village this month. Written by Margaret Tomlinson, the book Three Generations of Lace Makers , was originally p

A FASCINATING book tracing the history of lace-making in Branscombe, which has been out of print for several years, will be re-launched in the village this month.

Written by Margaret Tomlinson, the book 'Three Generations of Lace Makers', was originally published in 1985.

According to Barbara Farquharson, of the Branscombe Project, the book became "gold dust" and was something to be searched for in second-hand bookshops.

But now the project has been given permission to reprint the book by Margaret Tomlinson's son-in-law, Peter Dickens who was married to her late daughter, Anna.


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Barbara said: "The book is very interesting. It's about the three big families in Branscombe- the Chicks, the Tuckers and the Fords, and the way they created the Branscombe lace industry."

Margaret Tomlinson writes about the very first lace trader, a woman called Abigail Chick, whose daughter married John Tucker, a lace industrialist.

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Six of their daughters were put to work by John Tucker as lace makers and the terrible conditions they worked in eventually led to their poor vision, and even blindness in one case.

"He was so mean about candlelight," said Barbara, who is now preparing for the launch day, which takes place on Saturday, November 14.

Members of the Branscombe Project will be selling the books at a special price and they will also be resurrecting an exhibition on lace making, which was first created in 2000.

Five commemorative bobbins have been created for the book's launch by Janet Retter, a lace bobbin maker from Northamptonshire.

They are painted red, are inscribed with the book's title and show the silhouette profile of a woman- the same design which is on the front cover of the books.

The bobbins will be on display during the exhibition and Branscombe resident Betty Rowson is supplying lace work, including rare black lace, created by her mother May Somers along with a photo of her mother at work.

Sid Sweetland, whose late wife Peggy made lace, will demonstrate lace-making and will show some of the old lace, lace pillows and bobbins.

The free exhibition will be held in the village hall from 2pm to 5pm and there will be chudleighs and clotted cream teas (�2 per person).

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