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I am descended from a family of boat builders on the River Ouse at Bedford, my home town. In 1970 my wife Valerie and I moved to Knutsford, and it was during the 70s that I became interested in woodturning, and made a replica of a spinning-wheel. Not long after I started writing for woodwork magazines, in between the day job as an engineer. I had always wanted to write a book, and eventually I wrote ‘Wheels and Looms’ in 1987, all about spinning-wheels and looms, including a number of designs which went into a reprint. Later I went on to write ‘The Traditional Furniture Making’, ‘Wooden Clock Cases’ and ‘Making Classic Country Chairs’. I have written over 100 articles for various woodwork magazines and others.
After being made redundant in my mid 50’s I became a full time woodturner and writer. I went on to create plans of a variety of spinning-wheels, looms, historic furniture, clock cases, and country chairs. Spinning-wheels though were always what I enjoyed most. I made a 16 spindle Hargreaves spinning-jenny for Quarry Bank Mill (QBM) for the interpretation gallery, where Valerie was textile co-ordinator. I also made a spindle-wheel and other textile items for QBM. One spinning-wheel of mine is in the John Carr Museum. Later I started making great wheels for customers. These were 1000mm diameter, with steam bent wood rims, which taught myself how to do. I stamp my work with my name and town ‘David Bryant, Knutsford’. In between Valerie and I started recording early spinning-wheel makers in the British Isles and we have over 800 records. I have restored many spinning-wheels, and one I did for Jane Austin House and Museum was a wheel by John Planta of Fulneck, Leeds, c.1780-1800. We were consulted on the restoration of two fine table boudoir spinning-wheels for the V&A in London, which are now on display in the European Gallery. Now retired, during covid lockdown I have been working on a small table boudoir spinning-wheels with a 200mm diameter wheel, my interpretation of a John Jameson boudoir table wheel, a York maker c.1780-1800.