Farewell to Lancashire clog maker Reuben, a master of his craft

Tributes have been paid to one of Lancashire’s last clog makers who has died at the age of 91.

Wednesday, 26th August 2020, 3:45 pm
A master of his craft: Reuben Truswell pictured making clogs

Reuben Truswell of Clarkson’s Clog shop on Bridge Street, Garstang, sent his clogs out to customers all over the world.

Reuben had started at Clarkson’s as an apprentice after leaving Bilsborrow St John’s school at the age of 14.

During National Service he met future wife Ellen. They married in 1948 and later moved to Kepple Lane in Garstang. When Mr Clarkson retired Reuben took over the business.

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Daughter-in-law Gwen said: "People, old and young, would often ‘camp out’ and pass the time of day with him in the workshop, while he got on with making clogs, replacing cokers (clog irons) and repairing shoes.”

When his clogs featured in a national newspaper, after a passing journalist bought a pair, he was inundated with orders. Gwen said: “It was mad after that, It was a bit of a cottage industry for a while. People sent in personal drawings of their feet.”

Reuben would cut and shape the soles out of wood blocks with a special cutting knife. Eventually the soles were bought in ready made. Reuben also bought hide in different colours from Cumbria and made the clog tops.

Son Ray recalled: “He used to have a grinding iron in the back for sharpening all his knives.”

There was another boom in business as morris dancing teams enjoyed a renaissance and his clogs were sold at folk festivals.

Ray said: “He never realised how good he was. He never thought of himself as a craftsman. He just thought it was a job.”

Reuben, who was born and spent his early years at Fell View, Claughton, retired in the 1990s after 52 years making clogs and repairing boots, shoes and other leather goods.

He was a loyal Preston North End supporter and a keen player himself, playing for the Garstang Juniors in his younger days. Later in life he joined the darts and dominoes teams at the Patten Arms.

Reuben and Ellen had two children, Ray and Lawrence, who died at the age of three in 1958. Ellen died in 2002. Reuben leaves a son, daughter in law, two grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

Gwen said: "They were fabulous grandparents, as well as being loving and generous parents and parents-in-law...Cinema nights (i.e. videos) were special at nana and grandad’s with grandad shining a torch while nana came round with ice-creams!”

Canon Ron Greenall, who conducted the funeral service at St Thomas’s, Garstang, recounted how he and Reuben had often smiled as they acknowledged they had work in common - one dealing with soles and the other souls.