Basket Making in East Leake

Early Beginnings c.1830

In his book "A History of East Leake" (1903, p81-82) the Re. Sidney Pell Potter describes how the trade came to East Leake and subsequently became a village staple:-

A certain William Mills of West Leake married a woman from Ratcliff-on-Soar, by name Withers, and by trade a basketmaker.  Mrs Mills taught her husband this trade and they, with the co-operation of her father and mother, developed a good business at West Leake, working entirelyto the orders of a London tradesman.

Three sons, born to them, were taught the trade; and two, john and William, eventually settled in East Leake, and commenced business as basket makers.

From this beginning in or about 1830, the trade has developed so much that at the present time (1903) fifty-four hands are employed.

The wages first earned were from ten shillings to thirteen shillings a week, as compared with the agricultural labourer's nine shillings to ten shillings.  That wage can be doubled at the present time by a competent hand. 

At first the work was all white work, such as office and plate baskets; but now, all kinds of basket work are made.


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