Tanneries

In common with most market towns, Winslow had tanneries where animal skins were treated with tannin and made into leather. The leather was bought by leather dressers, saddlers, glovers and lace pattern makers to be turned into finished goods. One of the tanyards was on the sharp bend in Horn Street. Amongst the deeds to the house called Sunnyside, on Horn Street, is the following conveyance, by which Thomas Blake sets aside part of his orchard to create a tannery business for his son John Blake:

16 January 1740

1) Thomas Blake of Winslow gentleman
2) John Blake of Winslow tanner (one of the sons of the said Thomas Blake)

In consideration of the natural love and paternal affection which the said Thomas Blake hath and beareth unto the said John Blake his son and for his better provision and advancement in the world and in consideration of the sum of 10s ....

All that piece of inclosed ground belonging and adjoining to the homestall of the said Thomas Blake and lately an orchard but now converted into a tanyard containing by estimation one acre be it more or less the Rickyard of the said Thomas Blake westward the home close of the said Thomas Blake southward the garden of William Hobbs eastward and the cottage of the said Thomas Blake by him purchased of Nicholas Plaistead northward thereof with liberty of ingress egress and regress in and through the yard and rickyard of the said Thomas Blake to and from the said Orchard or tanyard now in the occupation of the said John Blake together with all houses buildings trees hedges ditches mounds fences tan vats lime pits water pits privileges profits and appurtenances whatsoever to the said orchard or tanyard belonging

Oxford Journal, 5 Jan 1771

TO be Lett and entered upon at Lady-Day next; a very good HOUSE and TAN-YARD complete, situate in Great-Horn Street, Winslow, Bucks, being within two Miles of Whaddon Chace, wherein is plenty of Bark.   It likewise lies well for Hides and Skins.

Enquire of Mr. Thomas Blake of Winslow, or of Mr. Francis Blake, of King’s Sutton.


The other tanyard was adjacent to the Greyhound Inn on the corner of High Street and Greyhound Lane. It was unusual in Winslow in that it was freehold land, and the owner did not therefore have to have any conveyances copied into the Winslow Court Books. However, the following entry may refer to it while it was still copyhold:

Manor Court, 16 April 1700
William Benson of Aylesbury gent. and Jane his wife surrendered the messuage scituate in the Cowe Streete of Winslowe now in the occupation of William Shelton sr, with all trees, fences, etc. To the use of the said William Shelton, leather-dresser [alutarius] for his life, then Ellen his wife for her life, then William's heirs in perpetuity. William was admitted as tenant. Rent [blank], fine 5s.

Like many small town tanneries, it went out of business in the mid 19th century, in this case on the death of the proprietor, George West. The following advertisment for the property is taken from the Bucks Herald 25 August 1866. The property was actually purchased by the Solicitor Thomas Willis and became his principal residence. It has only recently been demolished and the site used for flats.

Bucks Herald 25 August 1866

Winslow, Bucks
An Excellent Residence, Coach House, Stabling, Greenhouse, and Garden
A most convenient Tanyard, with well arranged sheds, Hovels etc and a Valuable Piece of Garden Ground

To be Sold by Auction by Dudley & Son, on Friday, August 31st 1866 at the Bell Inn, Winslow, at Four o'clock in the Afternoon

In Three Lots (or in Two Lots as may be agreed at the time of Sale)

By direction of the Executors of the late George West Esq.

The whole of the Property is in excellent Repair and is now in the occupation of Mr Gibbs, a quarterly tenant.

The House is most conveniently situate, and is valuable either for a House of Business or a Private Residence

The Tan Yard offers every facility for carrying on a large and profitable trade, there being no other Yard within six miles of the place.

Part of the Purchase Money may remain on Mortgage if required.

Lots 1 and 2 are Freehold, and lot 3 is Copyhold of the Manor of Winslow, Nearly equal in value to Freehold.

For a View, apply to the Tenant, Mr Gibbs, and for further Particulars, to Messrs Willis and Willis, Solicitors, or to Messrs Dudley and Son, Auctioneers and Land Agents, Winslow.
Copyright 9 August, 2015