February 1, 2012

What kind of job is that?

Beamsman in a tannery
This is an excerpt from the 1911 UK census.  We had thought that John Holmes was a greengrocer ... so it was surprising to see this entry.  Actually it was his wife Margaret who was the greengrocer and John had a strange sounding job at the tannery.

Doing some investigation into "old occupations" we learned that the beamsman had the unpleasant job of hanging a hide over a beam and then scraping off the hair and the flesh. At that stage, the hide would be wet and heavy and impregnated with lime. If you are interested in more information about the process, refer to Roger Baker's excellent explanation.

Displayed with permission from the Hagley Museum and Library of Wilmington, Delaware.

Think about that the next time you put on leather shoes or a belt !

No comments:

Post a Comment