Richard Ludlow’s Day Book

Richard Ludlow’s Day Book kept at Upton Village Smithy, 1790-1797.

The entries fill about 170 pages and record work done for customers from Upton, Blewbury East and West Hagbourne and Harwell.

Most of the jobs were priced at 1/- or less unless much metal was needed. Iron was expensive, customers often provided their own: “A new grate freame to the fumes making 6 bars with your jorn”. Richard had plenty of work – in one month of 1793 he booked 32 jobs for one farmer alone. There must have been many other daily tasks, finished and paid for on the spot, and needing no book entry.

In the whole period, there are not more than a dozen entries costing over £1. The more expensive were mainly for the repair of farm waggons.

In 1795 John Phillips the local squire had his waggon almost entirely rebuilt at a cost of £5. 8s. 6d. – this is the largest single entry in the book.

It is often difficult to decide the nature of the work involved, from the spelling; “Toppointing a shar 1/-“, occurs very frequently and must have involved re-pointing a plough-share, a part of the implement which received most wear and tear working the rough chalky soil. From the cost it must have been quite a long job.

“Sharping a houldfast”, “A linch pin for a tras” (trace), and a new “esthouck”, were usually priced at a 1d.

As Mr. Ludlow was a smith his most common job was shoeing horses; “5 shoes & 2 ramouves” cost 2/4d., extra was charged for covering a horses nack – and doctoring the animal was also part of his trade. “A drincke for a hors” was always charged at 2/6d., and “oyels for the horses legge 1/-“.

Making and mending wheels was a job for the wheelwright but Ludlow was prepared to make and fix new “strakes” (short iron lengths of tyre) to the broad waggon wheels. Wheelbarrows (“wheelbra”) also received similar attention. Barn doors had their hinges and fastenings renewed, “bouckets”, locks and “poumpes” were renovated and farm implements constantly needed “sharping”. Pigs (“pegges”) were “ringen”, the squire’s “gon” needed a new “briggin” and in 1792 the Village Stocks needed “4 pleats and nails 3/-“.

“Making an jorn (iron) gambrel 2d.” referred to a pair of hooks separated by a bar suspended from a beam to hang a newly slaughtered pig on while the carcass was being dressed. But what we wonder was a “briggin”.