I sold this plane to a chap on eBay a while back. When I sent it off, I didn’t quite register the name I wrote on the parcel. A couple of months later, browsing the website of David Barron, I was very pleased to see the SAME PLANE! With it, David had photographed and written a lovely blog post about repairing the broken spur on the plane. Well worth checking out the post and indeed David’s whole blog. He’s a fine craftsman and furniture maker, and his enthusiasm shines through.
Funny how things go. I’m very pleased to see the plane went to such a good home, and I’ve learnt something myself, seeing how David goes about a good repair. Some good tips there.
Feels like time is fast running out to get this little cabinet up and on it’s legs, but hopefully it will be standing by next week.
I did quite a bit on the connecting rails this week, to join one side panel to the other, but spent the rest of the time smoothing the panels with a nice ‘Millers Falls No.18‘ bench plane.
This plane came in a job lot of tools I bought from a gentleman in Romford last week. A fascinating chap, who used to be a pattern maker for the Ford Motor Company in Dagenham. We spent a good couple of hours chatting and he did me a great deal on a bunch of nice tools.
I ended up selling the plane to a colleague on the course who likes Millers Falls, as I already have a large Stanley jointer, and a Stanley 4 1/2. During the course of the day, Alex sharpened up the iron on the Tormek and got the plane cleaned up. I was lucky enough to have a go with it on my cabinet, and I have to say, it was one of the nicest planes I’ve used. It had a really good heft to it, and with the razor sharp blade, was taking fantastic shavings.
Think I’ll end up looking for another one of these at some point. Millers Falls have been on my radar for a long time, but being US-made, whenever I see one for sale, I usually get put off by shipping charges. Quite how this one ended up being used by a craftsman in Romford, I don’t know. I should have asked!
Last week I had the pleasure of going back to the Midlands, the place where I was born, to meet an excellent fellow named Robert who had some wooden planes for sale. I’ve been hunting for a nice half, or full-set of moulding planes for a while. These Routledge planes were particularly attractive to me, being born in the Midlands, and Routledge was an excellent planemaker from the area.
Robert was passing on a collection of planes from his grandfather, who had been a cabinet maker. Rob turned out to be a very good salesman. As well as agreeing a deal on an extra bunch of planes and miscellaneous tools, I went back home with a bit more weight than I anticipated!
By the time I left, the planes were joined by some lovely Thos Ibbotson ‘pig-sticker’ mortise chisels, some Sorby and Marples carving chisels, too many awls and screwdrivers to list, and one other thing. Robert made me a deal which included also taking away his grandfathers home-made tool chest. A wondrous great mahogany beast, which will take a bit of work, but will be a nice piece when I’ve finished it. The Volvo was nearly doing a wheelie all the way back to London.
Last month’s tool haul included some beautiful John Moseley ‘side-bead’ moulding planes. I’m always interested in moulding planes, but these are in particularly good condition.
John Moseley is a name that creeps cropping up in my various web searches for tools. He’s synonymous with good plane making and he’s of particular interest to me because his business address, and indeed his common maker’s mark, is usually listed as ’54-55 Broad St, Bloomsbury, London’.
Now it just so happens I cycle through the streets of London to get to work every day, and my current route takes me through the heart of Bloomsbury, so I thought I’d try and find out where his premises used to be.
The first problem I encountered is that Broad Street does not exist in Bloomsbury any more. There’s a Broad Street in neighbouring Soho, (home of the Broad Street pump, which John Snow identified as the source of the 1854 cholera epedemic), but nothing in Bloomsbury.
However, Broad Street is clearly shown on Greenwood’s famous London map of 1827, (you can see it down in the lower left corner of a section reproduced below).
Some searching later, and it’s clear there’s been a name change. Broad Street is now just an extension of High Holborn. This is confirmed on the UCL website. Of Broad Street and the area of St.Giles, they quote:
Thomas Beames, writing in the middle of the nineteenth century, described the whole area of St Giles as the type of “the lowest conditions under which human life is possible”, but he was at a loss to explain why: it was not on the river (at that time a haunt of criminals), had not had sanctuary areas (which often became criminal rendezvous places) and had been a rich area in the seventeenth century (Thomas Beames, The Rookeries of London: Past, Present, and Prospective, 2nd edn, 1852)
I’ve been searching online for some good photos of Broad Street before it turned into High Holborn. I’m hoping the wonderful people at the Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre will be able to find something. They’re very knowledgeable about the local area and think some photos might exist in a London Transport archive. If so, and if I find a picture of John Moseley’s premises, I will certainly post it on the blog.
I also found reference to a chap named Jeff Warner, who uses 19th century Sun fire insurance records, to find out a bit more about Moseley. Seems at some point, the family business moved to Covent Garden.
‘The records also helped to establish that another tool dealer, John Moseley and Son of 16-17 New Street, Covent Garden, was taken over by William Moseley in October 1828 after the death of John Moseley on 10 June 1828. More importantly, the Sun insurance records show that John Moseley was the possessor of a horse mill in the yard of his premises, which means that some kind of manufacturing was taking place, as the mill would have provided power to run a saw or perhaps a grinding wheel. This important piece of information had not been recorded in any other source.’ Link
I then found a few old maps of Covent Garden, including a section reproduced above from Christopher Horwood’s 26 inch to the mile Map of London, Westminster & Southwark 1799, which clearly shows New Street. However, looking at our modern day Google, the road has been renamed as New Row, although the building still seems to be there. Number 16-17 still looks the same, except for the hideous slice of retail that now underpins so many beautiful London buildings, in this case, a Costa Coffee shop.
What changes have I not seen in the line of route not many hundreds of yards in length between the eastern corner of Pall Mall and Garrick Street itself. The last-named thoroughfare was not constructed when I was young, and it owed its existence very much to the untiring efforts of Albert Smith, who did much more as a social reformer than his contemporaries gave him credit for, and who was continually protesting in the newspapers – he was the “London Scoundrel” of the Times – and in his own books and magazine articles, against a narrow and inconveniently crowded little thoroughfare called New Street, running out of St. Martin’s Lane, towards Covent Garden, which New Street is still existent, but the traffic in which has been much lightened by the building of Garrick Street, which obviously derived its name from the Garrick Club, which migrated thither from its original home, King Street. (From Victorian London – Publications – Social Investigation/Journalism – London Up to Date, by George Augustus Sala, 1895 – Three P.M. : At the National Gallery) Link