Wantage, The Largest Tanyard in the Kingdom. Three Centuries of the tanning industry in Wantage

John Parrot, Garden Shed Publications, 2009, 250mm x 200mm ( 9.8in x 8in), 121pp, ISBN 9780955479726

This is a fascinating book which will be of great interest not only to family and local historians but also to those interested in the occupational details of the leather industry. It traces the growth of the tanning industry in the town from Saxon times to its peak in the late seventeenth century, and ends with its total demise after the death of the last tanner in 1825. Since then all trace of the industry above ground has disappeared, even road names have been changed. The details of how the tanning process was carried out and the different occupations it generated are excellent. The initial processes involved the use of such delicacies as dog dung, urine and rotting vegetable material- the local smells must have been appalling. Also of interest to family historians are the biographical details of the family dynasties created between 1523 and 1825. Eight appendices with additional material, photos and plans, and all fully indexed make this a very good book.

Jean Debney

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