Tools for the job

A billhook being used for hedging

Finch Foundry was one of the largest tool manufacturers in the South West and mainly supplied farmers and miners who lived in and around Sticklepath.

At this time of the year, a variety tools made at the foundry were used by local farmers, thatchers and gardeners. To give you an idea:

Grass hook

Grass hook made at Finch Foundry, Devon
Grass hook made at Finch Foundry, Devon
Grass hook made at Finch Foundry, Devon

Grass hooks were often made-to-order in the specific shape and size required by the buyer, depending on what they needed them for. This means that there are many possible styles. The hook pictured above is a particular variant; probably used for cutting long grass. If you're wondering, the difference between a hook and a sickle, is that a sickle has a serrated blade.

Weeding fork

Weeding fork on display at Finch Foundry, Devon
Weeding fork on display at Finch Foundry, Devon
Weeding fork on display at Finch Foundry, Devon

The Finch's also made some weird and wonderful tools which turned out to be quite useful. This one looks quite deadly, but only for weeds, as it's particularly useful for lifting dock and thistle. Weeds were so problematic during the 19th century that you could be fined if they were proved to have crossed your land boundary into your neighbour's garden.

Thatcher's shearing hook

Shearing hook on display at Finch Foundry, Devon
Shearing hook on display at Finch Foundry, Devon
Shearing hook on display at Finch Foundry, Devon

The Finch's supplied tools for many different industries in the area, one of which was thatching. This particular hook is used by sweeping the blade across and towards the body, to gain a very flat finish on the thatch, and is available in both left and right handed versions.

Billhook

Billhook on display at Finch Foundry, Devon
Billhook on display at Finch Foundry, Devon
Billhook on display at Finch Foundry, Devon

These were, and still are, mainly used for pruning and lopping branches and vegetation and are particularly useful for hedging. The design, size and shape vary widely depending on what they're going to be used for, as well as local variations. At the foundry, a wide variety were made including the Devon and Bristol, as these were also made-to-order. Most of the billhooks made here had a small notch in the handle, where a leather strap could be attached so it could be held on the wrist.