Tools for the autumn

Hay knife produced at Finch Foundry, Devon

Finch Foundry was one of the largest tool manufacturers in the south west and mainly supplied the farmers and miners who lived in and around Sticklepath

As summer turns to autumn, the type of tools made in the foundry changed too as farmers prepared for the long, cold, Dartmoor winter.

Some of them were

  • Barley winnower - Barley is a very useful winter feed for livestock. However, it needs to be processed before it can be eaten, as the chaff (or inedible parts) can get lodged in the throats of animals. This tool was used to beat the cut plant to separate the barley from the chaff.

  • Hay knife -  Once hay had been produced for winter feed it would be bundled into stacks. In order to make it easier to move, or feed to livestock, it needed to be cut. A very sharp and weighty blade was the best tool for the job and the hay knife was produced for this.

  • Trenching spade - A common autumn job would be to repair or lay fencing. In order to cut a deep narrow hole, the Finch's produced a specialist spade. This spade was narrow, curved and sharp and was a strong and effective tool.

When business was slow, the Finch's looked for other opportunities to make a profit. One service that they provided, was as funeral directors. The sawmill on site cut planks for coffins and in the forge they made handles, bosses, nails and grave markers. The Finch's even offered a wake and transport services through family members who ran catering and cart/car rental businesses.