Our History at Wheelwright’s shop, Lancashire
My name is Phill Gregson, I am a time-served Master wheelwright at Wheelwright’s shop, Lancashire, England. Having grown up with wheelwrighting as the hub of the family business I decided to set up on my own and attend a course at Herefordshire College of Technology to achieve a qualification in the trade.
Over a decade in the trade has taken me to amazing places and experiences, I have been lucky enough to become a Yeoman of the Worshipful Company of Wheelwrights in London www.wheelwrights.org , became a master Wheelwright with the City and Guilds of London and Travelled as a Churchill Fellow to complete research in the USA and Canada www.wcmt.org.uk.
Family History at Wheelwright’s shop
The Wheelwrights’s trade is a tradition that has passed down many generations in my family, originating in Kent and moving to the north-west after World War One. My great-grandfather was sent to Southport Hospital after cutting his finger off in a french saw-mill whilst waiting to be de-mobbed. Here, he met my great-grandmother and went on to work for the Scarisbrick Estate, which was one of the largest estates in the North-West at the time.
Albert had two children, Edward and James. Edward is my grandfather and after leaving school at 14 years of age, during World War Two, he became a cabinet maker in Southport. Edward eventually went on to follow in his father’s footsteps and work on the Scarisbrick Estate as a foreman. His job consisted of farm and property maintenance and Wheelwrighting.
My Grandfather had three children, Albert, Alan and my mother, Susan. My Mother trained as a Wheelwright with my Grandfather, but stopped to become a full-time mother when I was born. It was then up to my father, Paul, to learn the trade and carry on the family tradition, which he continued to do up until I was in my late teens.
As a child being in the workshop always interested me and it wasn’t long before I was helping out and learning the trade for myself. After leaving school, I worked for a company which restores metalwork in parks and recreates Victorian furniture, it was there that I built up my knowledge of blacksmithing and metalwork. I then went on to a few different jobs, including working in a nightclub, here I realised that being a wheelwright was the right job for me and I am proud to be running my Wheelwright’s shop to this day.
Working full time at Wheelwright’s shop I encounter a different job every day, and it is very rare to get two jobs the same, The day to day work varies and offers constant mental stimulation (and regularly distress)! As my Grandfather often says I’ve been working sixty odd years or more and I still don’t know it all’! I find this a great incentive to be a wheelwright as I will never be bored by monotony.
Here at Wheelwright’s shop we have a great belief in passing on our skills. If there was to be a gap between one wheelwright retiring and a new one starting work the skills of a thousand generations would be lost.
With this in mind we have made every effort to ensure the skills are passed on not just from father/mother to son but to outsiders who wish to take up the trade themselves. Edward has spent his lifetime helping anyone who show’s and interest and I have also vowed to do my best to help others learn more.
Between the many shows we attend all over the UK, the research abroad, the social media pages, website and apprenticeship I hope we will enable the skills to flourish and survive for generations to come.