Last night a new series, Countrywise, launched on ITV showcasing what “makes Britain tick”. The programme, the first in a 36 episode series, focuses on different aspects of the Great British Countryside and is presented by Paul Heiney. As well as providing viewers with a reminder of the beauty and hidden gems to visit within the UK, each episode includes a short feature, ‘Country Champions’, celebrating people who practice traditional skills and crafts that all too often get forgotten or lost. Tonight’s programme focussed on hurdlemaking.
The programme told the story of Alan Brown, a 70 year old 6th generation hurdle maker from Dorset who crafts hurdles from his own hazel coppice. Alan sells the hurdles mainly for use in gardens now, however he advises that there are still the odd sheep hurdles sold for lambing pens on farms. The programme also shows his son, who is also a trained hurdle maker, but unfortunately he was forced to seek work elsewhere as making hurdles was not profitable enough. Mr Brown explains that imported hurdles tend to be made using full lengths of wood often held together with nails, whereas his traditional hurdles are made from split lengths of the wood and are held together by their own strength in the way the hurdle itself is constructed.