An interview with...

Rodney Sharples

Retired Woodmerchant


Interviewed by:
Rebecca Oaks

Rodney Sharples was born in Slackhead in the house next door to where he lives with his wife now. As a boy he was fascinated by the local sawmill run by Wardleys and had no other thought but to be able to leave school and start work. He was immediately set to work driving a catapillar tractor, extracting timber. After doing three years national service he came back to Wardleys and was soon driving loads of timber around the country. He is very knowledgeable about the varying quality of timber and how it differs from wood to wood. ‘.. Beetham park, it can’t grow oak can but it’s always shaken. Major woods is somewhat similar’. He remarks on the difference between woodcutters and coppicers ‘none of the woodcutters that did heavy stuff could coppice …they could but they weren’t as fast’ One of the last coppice men working in the area was Ernie Pearson who supplied rods to the shipyards for setters, and sent rods to Rowntrees for clearing the scum of chocolate, tremendous quantities were sent to the steel and iron works. Mr. Wardley died in 1960 and Rodney took over the business and ran it until he retired in the mid 90’s. In latter years it was mainly firewood. He is rueful about changes in working practice ‘I don’t know, now nobody has time to do a job’ .. now nobody has any pride in the job’.

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