Local Rush Industry

The River Ouse slowly winds its way through North Bedfordshire in several large horse-shoe shaped loops providing miles of rush beds over a relatively small area. Pavenham is positioned on one of these large river loops and was ideally placed to be the centre of the North Bedfordshire rush industry from the mid C18 to the early C20.
Rush was harvested in June, July and August by gangs of men wading, often waist deep, into the river and cutting the rush with a long handled bill hook. The men slept in tents along the river bank, hanging their clothes out to dry over night ready to wear the next day. Meanwhile the bundles or bolts of rush were transported to Pavenham, either by river or cart, and spread out to dry.
During the ensuing year the rush was either plaited or woven into baskets, mats, horse collars, hassocks etc and was also used to upholster chairs or in the coopering trade.
Today there is still a small rush industry supplying hand crafted traditional rush products to discerning customers.

The header and the photo on the right show Felicity Irons and a colleague harvesting rush on the River Ouse at Radwell.
More details can be found on her web site:
Rush Kneeler (Hassock) in Felmersham church, thought to
have been made locally. 
A seat back in Knotting church upholstered c1930 and
woven with rush harvested at Pavenham.

Tourist Info  |  Walks  |  Church  |  Organisations  |  Communications  |  Leisure  |  Travel  |  Schools  |  Get Interactive  |  Groups

Home Page  |  Main Index   Page last updated: 08/01/15