The last traditional clog maker in England.

 
   
   
 


Jeremy Atkinson is the last traditional clog maker of bespoke clogs in England. He hand cuts the leather uppers and hand carves the soles. He was taught by a man who was taught by a man who was taught by a man. In other words he is the living end of a line stretching back centuries. The English tended to carve Welsh and west country alder, Scottish birch and Lincolnshire willow. The Welsh used alder, birch & sycamore. It was said that they paid more for sycamore which lasts much longer.

   
           

Jeremy usually uses young, 20-30 year old, Welsh sycamore trees cut green with traditional swivel knives (see video below) out of a split trunk. This allows the wood to be cut following the grain and minimises the risk of tension within the wood causing splits and uneven shrinkage.
 

   
 

The Last Clog Maker
in England
A film by
Artisan Media

 

He hand dyes the leather for each pair which has so much oil within its structure that it inevitably influences the final colour which can be a little unpredictable. Hides vary in their oil content and there are even variations within each hide.

 

Jeremy makes alder clogs (above) on request. It is a softer less durable wood than sycamore but it was the wood of choice throughout the industrial revolution. Alder eventually molds to the shape of the foot. In past times it was said that the mill girls would save the soles of old pairs of alder clogs because they had crushed to the shape of their feet and were really comfortable when standing at the looms all day. They'd ask the clog maker to unpick the tops and carefully put a new one on.

 


Alder is very resistant to decay under water and was used for water pipes, pumps, troughs, small boats and piles under bridges and houses.


Jeremy has travelled in Spain and France researching European clog making traditions. He demonstrates his skill at County and Craft Fairs across Britain during the summer.

 

As the last person in England following a centuries old craft he has written about the tradition of clog making. He discusses the various designs of these unique shoes and their place in society.