How long does it take to make a trug?
That depends on many factors as it depends on the size and shape of the trug, the experience of the maker and how well the wood wants to behave. On average, for a medium sized trug for a maker of at least five to ten years experience it could take about two hours. Don't forget that we also have to fetch timber and sometimes have to cut the trees or go coppicing in the woodlands.
Why the SUSSEX Trug?
The Sussex Trug is a product of its own surroundings. Every country and every region has its own style of basket, although many have been lost. We do not commercially grow much osier or weaving willow used in most baskets, but we do have willow trees, coppiced in the past, and plenty of Sweet Chestnut, much of which was planted hundreds of years ago for the hop industry as supports for the hop plants as well as myriad other uses. The soil conditions and climate suit these woods well. Farmers here have used them for hundreds of years. Sussex always had notoriously bad clay filled roads making journeying into and out of Sussex very difficult until modern times so traditions stayed unchanged into living memory.
Why is the village of Herstmonceux so well known as a centre for trugmaking?
The village is surrounded by the local materials and a long tradition of hoopmaking for use in barrels and casks. Hoopmaking is not a far stretch from trugmaking and one hoopmaker who turned his hand to trugmaking was Thomas Smith. His trugs were shown at the Great Exhibition of 1851 at the Crystal Palace built in Hyde Park. Queen Victoria admired them and ordered trugs to be made for her family. According to local legend Mr Smith and his brother put the trugs, which had been finished with silvered nails, in a wheelbarrow (although family members tell me it was a handcart and they had to obtain a hawker's licence), and the two walked all the way to Buckingham Palace. More orders followed for the Royal Household and of course the world and his wife wanted the same. There were several families involved in the production, some continuing into the 1970s.
What materials are used in a Sussex Trug?
The framework is made of Sweet Chestnut which is split, shaved and steamed. The boards are made from the offcuts of cricket bats, ie willow. The feet are also made of the same willow.
Is the Sussex Trug strong?
Yes it is very strong and can carry very heavy weights, having been used for regular harvesting of vegetables and even stones. It is also well balanced to carry. The high level of tannins in the Sweet Chestnut means it is rarely attacked by boring beetles and copes well with wet conditions. It can be as strong as young oak. Willow has shock absorbing qualities - think of how a ball hits a crickety bat and bounces off again. A little basic care keeps it in good condition.
How do I take care of my trug?
There's no need to be too precious, your trug is tough and built for hard work. All the same, a little care goes a long way in increasing its life span. Empty out weeds and damp materials regularly. You can wash it with hot soapy water and even scrub it, then leave to dry out in the air and store somewhere dry eg on a hook in the roof of the shed so that it has air circulating around it. Once a year a small amount of raw linseed oil or similar rubbed well in will prevent it drying out and becoming brittle and even waterproof it a bit. After a lot of hard work and many years it may need a bit of extra tlc and you can bring it to us for that. We can sometimes replace parts if the rest of the trug is sound.
Is the Sussex Trug heavy?
For its strength, it is relatively light - see weights next to product detail. Bear in mind that with age your trug will get lighter over the years and yet still remain as strong.
How do I choose which trug when there's so many?
We endeavour to illustrate possible uses in the pictures on the website, also on Facebook and Instagram. Some are more obvious than others for example for general gardening it is likely you will choose a Garden trug then all you have to choose is the size which is given in both inches and centimetres, along with an idea of weight (each trug will vary within the sizes). If you can't decide on just one size then take advantage of the free shipping on orders over £160 and buy two! If you are still unsure please feel free to email or call us for advice. Be aware you may end up as a trug addict and want to keep adding to your collection.
Are trugs suitable for children?
Absolutely! Kids love to be like the grownups and you may well foster a love for gardening and appreciation of a well made object. There's a lot they can learn about this simple basket too which relates to the natural world around them. Trugs are also probably a lot tougher than most toys.
We have regular customers who buy them for any new children in the family, usually a small one at about age 3. They are then given a full sized one when they marry or have their first garden of their own.
Can trugs be personalised?
The Truggery has a long tradition of personalising trugs with pyrography (burnt in lettering). We still offer this service which is very popular for wedding, birthday, retirement and anniversary gifts. There is also a small selection of traditionally pokered and painted trugs available now and again.
What is your lead time when purchasing a trug?
If we have the trug you want in stock then you can select Standard delivery and allow up to ten days for delivery, but it will most likely arrive much quicker. If you are in a hurry there is an expedited delivery option for receipt in 1/2 working days as long as you place the order before 10 am.
For trugs that are not in stock, or are Special Order only, please allow 4-6 weeks. Sometimes we may have to source suitable materials which are not exactly available 'off the shelf'.
Where do you source your materials?
The willow we use is usually the offcuts from cricket bats and therefore a good use of waste material. For larger pieces of willow we rarely go further than a few miles away. Local farmers who grow small plantations of willow will let us know when there is something suitable.
The Sweet Chestnut is coppiced in local woodlands. We sometimes share an area with a woodsman/woman as we only take a few poles from each root stool and the rest which is usually unsuitable for us is taken by them for products like fencing stakes, gates and garden furniture. Cutting starts as the leaves die back and the sap goes down. It stops when the leaves sprout again. The cycle of cutting can be anything from five to twenty five years.