Index

Staves and Barrels

Cooperage (cask-making) is one of the ancient trade crafts. Staves - billets of oak from which casks for breweries are fashioned - were supplies by stave merchants from German or Russian oak. John Dibblee worked for H&R Fowler from 1952, importing staves for beer barrels. This was the oldest and last remaining of the stave merchants. There was a decline of what was once a major industry, as there was a shortage of decent oak, and aluminium casks were cheaper to make and clean. H&R Fowler folded in 1961.

Making staves

Tree trunks being cut to make staves Oak staves being cut
Oak staves Inspection of the staves

Barrels

Barrels Barrels
Barrels Barrels
Barrels Barrels
Barrels Barrels

At the end of a 5 year apprenticeship, the newly qualified cooper would be covered in filth and rolled around the cooperage in a cask by his mates. Only then could he call himself a true cooper.