Rinding and Newport Tannery

Rinding and Newport Tannery
Callington Heritage Centre

By: Callington Heritage Centre
Added: 16 January 2016

From "Glimpses of a Cornish Rural Community - Trebullet - and the Parish of Lezant"  a community project supported by North cornwall Arts, Cornwall Rural Community Council and Lezant Parish Council comes this informative book. From it we learn the following about "rinding". Additional information has been supplied by members:-

Rinding was the harvesting of oak bark for use in the tanning trade. It ceased some time soon after 1920 when alternative tanning substances became available. Bark was harvested in the spring, usually during April or May, when the sap was rising. The operation being difficult during frosty weather or high winds, and so the work was done during a mild spell. Most of the operatives were smallholders and they were employed as casual workers. 

The men used small bill hooks with the curve of the blade razor sharp. An incision was made around the base of the tree and another as high as could be reached. A vertical slash was then made between these cuts and the bark was worked from the sapwood using bone tools made from the lower bone of a bullock's foreleg. The resulting tube was known as a "rind". 

Continual pounding on the bone tool with the right hand was hard on the hand and leather protectors were used. These could be made from an old boot, the heel resting on the palm of the hand with part of the lacing being used to secure it. Many of the men were allergic to the sap and developed sores, between their fingers and also round their eyes, noses and mouths.

Trees could not survive rinding and were then cut down using a cross-cut saw. Further lengths of trunk could then be stripped. The wood was not wasted but cut  and sold, even the twigs were gathered into bundles known as faggots. The remaining stools or "mottes" (pronounced moat) would regenerate and were left for many years before being harvested again. Each year a different patch of woodland would be cleared in this way.

The tubes were loaded on a wagon and taken for drying and storage or to the local tannery. In Callington, this was at Newport, not far from the Coach Maker's Arms. The tannery is now gone, but we have one photograph in the Heritage Centre to remind us of what it looked like.