Newmarket bucks the trend by offering traditional skills in abundance!
21st August 2013
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Repairing household items and being able to identify wildlife have been named as the most endangered everyday skills in the UK. The nationwide project by Greeniversity, aimed at encouraging a community skill sharing revolution, highlights how widely known skills of just sixty years ago are at risk of being forgotten.

Whilst the results showed perhaps a little surprisingly wildlife identification, and foraging for wild food amongst the highest ranking responses, these were joined at the top by the less unexpected repair of household items and making and mending clothes.  Also on the list are woodwork and traditional building techniques, DIY , meal preparation from scratch, growing your own food and fixing a bicycle puncture!

The Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT) secured funding for Greeniversity to launch their nationwide skill sharing project and they have provided hundreds of free classes from growing your own mushrooms to making your own natural beauty products.

All this is being done to preserve skills for future generations, but maintaining many of these traditional methods can also be extremely beneficial to the environment and community as a whole. Looking around Newmarket it is heartening to see that we still maintain a sense of tradition and have many businesses utilising skills that have been passed through the generations.

Up on the roof!

Wilkins Chimney Sweep was established in 1895 by Tom Wilkins in Newbury, Berkshire and  has a long and proud history.  At that time, over a century ago, Tom used a bicycle with his brush and rods strapped to the cross bar,  and as such was restricted to covering a relatively limited area.  

Through the decades the business was passed down through the family until in 1998, after intensive training, Peter Harris took over the business from the incumbent ‘Mr Wilkins.’ 

In 2011, Peter, and his wife, Louise, franchised Wilkins Chimney Sweep to expand the business, with Mark and Justine Sullivan being fully trained franchisees for Newmarket and West Suffolk.  Although the bicycle has long since been replaced by those new fangled motor vehicles, the company still holds quality, professionalism and traditional values at it’s core.  And upholding another long standing tradition, Mark also lends his services as a ‘Lucky Sweep’, attending weddings to wish the happy couple good fortune in their marriage!

Newmarket tree surgeons that work alongside - not against - nature

Now Green Wood Tree Surgery may not do too much in the way of foraging for food, but I suspect their wildlife identification skills may  be a little above average.  Certainly in the course of their work they are keen to protect and preserve local wildlife.  Fortunately, nesting birds and their nests and eggs are protected by law.  Many other species such as bats and badgers are also protected. Green Wood Tree Surgery work within the guidelines set out in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, and the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW), undertaking a Bat Presence Survey before felling possible habitats.  They are keen to promote reduction rather than removal of trees and actively encourage re-planting and will hang bird or bat boxes where appropriate on trees they are working on. 

Green Wood Tree Surgery is a family-run business that has built an exceptional reputation for quality tree work and landscape gardening and should naturally be the first place you turn to if you need cutting, pruning, general tree work and gardening in Newmarket and surrounding areas.

Television on the blink?

There is no doubt that to our detriment, we have become a ‘throw away’ society.  Are we so affluent that when something breaks we can afford to simply replace it?  And what’s more, do we have no concerns over the level of landfill this is creating?  Well, in my case certainly and I’m sure in the majority of others’ -  no we are not that affluent and yes we do have concerns.  However, the major issue is that over recent years it has become increasingly difficult to find someone with the skills and knowledge required to carry out appliance repairs.

Happily for Newmarket, Fenway Television Ltd of Exeter Road, Newmarket specialise in setting up and repairing  television and electrical equipment for domestic and commercial customers and can have your appliance back up and running at a fraction of the cost, to both your pocket and the environment. For over 40 years Fenway have built an enviable reputation for reliability and good old fashioned customer service.  They are highly skilled in repairing televisions, DVD recorders, VCR’s and much more. They also offer a range of aerial and satellite services

However, Fenway Television Ltd are no strangers to the new and state of the art either.  They can wire you whole house for sound with the latest entertainment systems giving you access to music and radio from around the world at the touch of a button.

It's all cobblers!

Footwear is at risk of being another victim of the ‘replace don’t repair’ generation.  Time was you could find a cobblers in every town and some villages.  Once again the abundance of cheap (nasty), imported  shoes means that people simply don’t bother to get them mended when the soles wear through or the heels go down. 

However, many of us prefer to invest in quality footwear, the type that offers style and comfort with a touch of class.  And to keep your shoes in tip top condition the Shoe Doctor on Market Street, Newmarket delivers not just a friendly and personal service, but a quality one too.  

A traditional, family run business Shoe Doctor provides a professional shoe repair service, including specialist orthopaedic work, plus all aspects of riding boot repairs.  In addition to this they offer a locksmith and key cutting and engraving service. 

What all these businesses have in common is that they all have an element of traditionalism, but they move with the times. They pass their skills and trades down the generations knowing their value to the community and to the environment, and for that they certainly deserve our support.

About the Author

Ian C

Member since: 15th June 2012

I live locally. Loves travel, my springer spaniel 'Lilly' life,real ale,good food,fast bikes/cars. I run thebestofcambridge & newmarket,VELC business networking.

Love meeting new people and helping...

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