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an english tannery that does not use chemicals

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hi chaps

had a man in today with his own long soles said he got them from the only english tannery that makes leather with out using chemicals.

he said a friend did some film/media work there they also supply the army and a top quality shoe makers but i don't thinkits wares as he said they were not in bristol but on a little farm, he was quite taken by the whole 6 month tan process and asked me if i stocked any sole of a simular nature.i showedhim the jr but he did not like the idea of buying a german made leather sole (sorry jr) i said these are the only ones that are tanned the same as his ones.

they had that lovely jr/ware exec colour and smell and feel to them but not jr any one know more where this tannery could be? or if they could supply us could be good for a wholesaler.


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This has got to be J & F J Baker (Hamlyns) of Colyton in Devon. They are now the only remaining tannery in Britain that produces oak-tanned leather by the traditional method. It takes about 12 months to produce a soling bend!


The tannery is like a time-capsule, preserved from around the 17th century, with a water wheel that is used to grind the oak bark and to agitate the tanning liquor in the pits.


I have used their leathers for saddlery work and for making leather belts and tankards, and I have to say that it's the finest leather I have ever used. It's sometimes possible to arrange a guided tour, although the tanning pits are unguarded (a H+S nightmare!), but if anyone's in the area it's well worth a visit. The man to contact is the MD, Andrew Parr.


Their website is at http://www.jfjbaker.co.uk/index.php

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Lee, I'm not surprised that you haven't received a reply to your email. The last time I visited Baker's, my invoice was prepared on an old-fashioned typewriter - remember those wonderful old clickety-click things? How quaint. . . .


I had said to Andrew Parr a couple of years earlier that they should have a website, and at the time he didn't really see the point. They have a brilliant product range, but I think their marketing is not quite up to scratch! :?

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£81 for a pack of ten.


not a bad price if they're good uns 8)


I'm only using JR's at the moment, but thats not because I think they are the dogs...I think they are the best of a bad bunch on the market today (only my opinion).


say what you think why don't you? :lol: :lol:



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To my knowledge there are a handfull english tanneries still working - Pittards in Yeoville being one that comes to mind but they specialise in the very fine leathers mainly used for gloves etc...


It's amazing to think that a place like bakers is still doing a trade... I shall be in touch on Monday morning!

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The big difference between the leathers that are made by Pittards (and many other tanneries in the UK) and Baker's leathers is in the tannage. The large commercial tanneries use the chrome-tanning method, which is a chemical/mineral process using chromium salts or chromium sulphate, and will tan a hide in a matter of hours. Leather that has been tanned by this method has a characteristic blue-grey colour that can be seen on a cut edge.


The 'vegetable' tanning that Baker's use is achieved by tanning in a 'liquor' made by soaking oak bark in water to release the tannins. The hides spend several weeks in the weakest tanning solution, and are moved to gradually stronger tanning liquors, through a series of up to 72 tanning pits, and this is why their soling bends take around 12 months to produce. Vegetable tanning is a much 'gentler' process than chrome tanning, and does not disrupt the natural fibrous structure of the skin, and this results in leathers that are generally stronger and harder wearing than those made by the cheaper and quicker methods.


I think the only other tannery in the UK that used traditional oak bark tanning was J Croggon & Son in Cornwall, but they ceased trading some years ago. I remember seeing their stamp 'Croggon's Oaktan' on leathers in my father's workshop many years ago.

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A very informative article but the readers should not automatically think that Vegetable Tanning is Oak Bark Tanned, there are many Vegetable tanners that do not use Oak Bark, and some of them produce Leathers of a nature not equal to Oak Bark Tanneries.

Those that do use Oak Bark also use other Vegetable matter to mix with the Oak Bark to give differring characteristics.

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  • 1 month later...

Well after having a longish conversation with a member of this company, I ordered a pack of long soles. I was told that I needed to pay by Pro-former and that they'd send it out that day, never had it, never re-approached.

To be honest I meant too, but it passed me by, hate bad service, but should have chased it up.... :? may have got lost in the post etc :-({|= I'll give it another go 8-[

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I'm afraid this reinforces my earlier comment - good products, but poor marketing! It will be a great shame if this last remaining oak bark tannery goes down the tubes through lack of salesmanship!


I just sent them an Email to find out more.
they must be traditional, haven't heard back from my Email :lol:
I was told that I needed to pay by Pro-former and that they'd send it out that day, never had it, never re-approached.




To be honest I meant too, but it passed me by, hate bad service, but should have chased it up.... :?


This was an opening to a much bigger market, Neither of us "should" have chased it up! the company itself should have chased us, looked at the forum & have an email address attached to the website that someone is looking at, spam filters are NO EXCUSE to me here either.


Might be a good product, i'll never know, its not always about the product but reliability for my customers. I will stick to what is currently the most reliable option................



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