Victorian Powys for primary  schools
Powys Digital History Project
Montgomery and district
Victorian school days
  No school - we're carrying bark for a month !  
The picture opposite shows workers at a tannery in Rhayader, holding leather hides for soaking in the tanpits.
Sometimes children missed school lessons because they could earn money for their families by helping with seasonal jobs. One of these was 'bark carrying', or barking, which was needed for the leather tanning industry.
When oak trees were cut down, the bark was stripped from the trunks and local children collected it and carried it to carts to be taken to the local tannery.
This Log Book entry is from Llandyssil School in 1865...
Tannery workers
28th April
School diary entry
"The attendance is diminishing. Children engaged carrying bark in the woods and potato-setting.The bark carrying will probably continue a month or more".
The strips of bark were ground into small lumps and put into tanpits. The leather hides were then soaked in mixtures of oak-bark and water for long periods.
Autumn was the time for gathering acorns in the woods. These were known as 'mast' and large quantities were collected and sold to farmers for feeding pigs.
This is Llandyssil School again, from 1868...
I'm nuts about acorns !
15th October
School diary entry
"Fewer children at school than there has been for a long time: most are away picking acorns as the wind has been rough and has blown them off the trees".

After this gale one local boy collected "19 bushels" [692 litres !] of acorns which he sold for 2 shillings a bushel, making a very useful sum of money for 1868.
A local teacher wrote "No wonder parents keep their children away" in the school diary !

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