This week I was fortunate enough to be able to spend a day with Peter Carter. Were it not for the fact that Peter is around the same age as me, I would have described him as “a traditional old fenman” making his living from the land and making all his own traps and nets.
I had originally contacted Peter to ask his advice on making simple willow fish traps that I could make and use while staying at my cabin, and he invited me over to spend a day.
Peter grew up in the fens and as a child spent his time with, and learning from the older generation who were in the business. We began by looking at some useful tools when making willow traps. Any idea what this is used for?
Well it is called a “cleaver” and as you push the centre into the end of a willow wand and push it along and as it moves through the willow it splits it into three equal pieces, as you can see in the picture below.
The cleaver was traditionally made out hard woods such as Hawthorn or Blackthorn. Then using another of Peters homemade devices which acts rather like a plane,
you pull each wand through the device and the cutting blade removes excess material, giving you nice even thickness strips of willow.
After a coffee and a chat about different types of traps and our net making methods, we were ready to begin making a fish trap……but more about that next time.
For fans of the TV program Time Team, Peter features in next weeks program.