The rivers Severn and Wye were once home to many now long-forgotten crafts and skills. In The River Hobbler's Apprentice: Memories of Working the Severn and Wye Alan Butt provides a vivid insight into the forgotten world of the river hobbler, a unique trade and one which he learnt of at the end of its days. Falling through the cracks of society the river hobbler paid no taxes and made a living by working whatever was available on and around the river. Changing throughout the year, tasks included catching salmon and elvers, rabbiting, cleaning barrels and castrating piglets to name just a few. Each season brought with it hazards ranging from trench foot, lost fingers, pneumonia, tuberculosis and even the occasional drowning!
This is a dual story in which the author seamlessly blends memories of the time he spent alongside hobblers during his youth with the life stories of other river hobblers. Tales range from falling in love with a milkmaid to the toiling tasks of earlier days, amid the hardships and constantly changing nature of work that was their lot. Featuring many previously unpublished photographs and written in a lively and humorous style with a love story running throughout, this book is sure to captivate its reader, immersing them in a way of life now long forgotten.