Royal approval for Peak’s historic craft

Jason Sollinger checks a finished riddle
Jason Sollinger checks a finished riddle
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AN HISTORIC craft that looked set to be lost forever has been given a new lease of life and even secured royal approval.

Back in 2009, Damien Bramhall read an article in the Buxton Advertiser about Mike Turnock, who was struggling to find someone to continue the traditional craft of riddle and sieve making.

Mike was ready to retire after more than 30 years of making traditional beechwood garden products and his firm Hill and Sons was the last remaining manufacturer.

If he couldn’t find someone to take over at Hill and Sons, Whaley Bridge, the craft would disappear forever.

Remembering visits as a child to watch Mike and his father Fred make the riddles and sieves, Damien got in touch with Mike and after a number of meetings a deal was struck.

After three months of juggling his full-time job as an HGV driver and training with Mike, Damien gave up driving and took over at Hill and Sons in September 2010.

Damien quickly decided to look for his first employee and took on Jason Sollinger later that month.

Since then Jason has become a partner in the business, a new sales agent for the south has been recruited and they have just become a supplier to Highgrove.

“From the beginning I always thought that the Prince of Wales would be interested in our products as well as the story, and after a chat with Jason we sent a riddle down to Highgrove, not really sure if we would hear anything back from them,” explained Damien.

“A couple of days later we had an email from the buying team asking us to go and visit them to discuss the supply of our product, which they thought were no longer being manufactured. We headed down to Tetbury, Gloucestershire, to meet with their buyer. The rest is, as they say, history.”

This month Highgrove are launching a 16” version of their hand-woven, half-inch mesh riddle and their small 8” potting sieve is for sale in their shops at Tetbury and Bath, and on their website www.highgroveshop.co.uk.

“We are also in the process of creating beechwood plant markers from the off cuts of our manufacturing process for Highgrove, as well as a number of other gardening related items,” said Damien.