Fred Gardiner (1890 - 1963)
Alongside craftsmen and women who came from elsewhere to live in and around Oakridge, a significant number of local people were recruited to work with Gimson and the Barnsleys. They became skilled craftsmen in their own right. Fred Gardiner his son Philip were two of those locals.
Photographs L - R, T - B
1. Fred Gardiner at work
2. Fred Gardiner working on a bureau for Dr John (Newport)
3. Nearly Finished!
4. Gimson and the Barnsley brothers and their workers. The back row includes Fred Orton (second from left) and Barnsley (sitting in the centre). The middle row includes Fred Gardiner (left) and Ernest Gimson (far right).
5. A set of six oak lattice back dining chairs by Fred Gardiner (4 plus 2) with upholstered drop in seats. Made for Mr & Mrs Cecil Young of Oakridge late 1940's / early 1950's upon their marriage. Height of elbow chair 98 cm
6. A walnut bedroom cabinet by Fred Gardiner.The plain top above a single drawer over two triple panelled doors opening to reveal a hanging rail and shelves, raised on bracket feet. Made for Mr & Mrs Cecil Young of Oakridge late 1940's / early 1950's upon their marriage.76 cm x 116.5 cm
7. An oak oval drop-leaf gate-leg dining table by Fred Gardiner.The plain top above square chamfered supports united by stretchers. Made for Mr & Mrs Cecil Young of Oakridge late 1940's / early 1950's upon their marriage. 91 cm wide
8. An oak sideboard with four central drawers flanked by two cupboard doors on sledge end supports by Fred GardinerMade for Mr & Mrs Cecil Young of Oakridge late 1940's / early 1950's upon their marriage. 138 cm high
9. An Arts and Crafts oak side table by Fred Gardiner.The plain top above a single drawer on square chamfered supports united by a single rail. Made for Mr & Mrs Cecil Young of Oakridge late 1940's / early 1950's upon their marriage. 75 cm wide
10. A walnut three quarter bedstead by Fred Gardiner.Made for Mr & Mrs Cecil Young of Oakridge late 1940's / early 1950's upon their marriage. 136.5 cm x 108.5 cm high
11. Philip Gardiner (Son of Fred Gardiner) at work in his workshop in Oakridge
12. Fred Gardiner shows Sir Stafford Cripps one of a set of 12 chairs at the Oakridge Flower Show, 1950
Fred was apprenticed to Ernest Gimson, one of the leading practitioners of the Arts and Crafts Revival movement which flourished between 1860 and the 1930s and was led by the artist and writer William Morris.
The Cotswolds was a hub for the movement, which sought to reintroduce traditional values of craftsmanship in an industrial age. His apprenticeship was served at Daneway and he worked with Malcolm Powell from Lyday Close, who gave Fred lots of his tools. During his seven-year apprenticeship with Gimson Fred’s pay started at 1s 6d per week and rose to 15s in the sixth year.
During the First World War Fred went to Ipswich to work on aircraft construction. In the Second World War, however, he went to Tylers of Thrupp. Between the wars Fred moved to Peter Waals' workshop in Chalford when Gimson died and after five years there he began to work from his own workshop at home in Oakridge.
The workshop was originally built as a place to do odd jobs in the evening and at weekends while he was employed by Gimson and then Waals, but after the Second World War it became his base for making furniture in the Gimson style.
From 1947 he worked as an inde¬pendent craftsman with his son Philip. They worked in walnut and English oak primarily, having a close relationship with the Workman family who owned Ryeford Sawmills and supplied their timber requirements.
Philip recalled work they undertook for many and varied clients including Princess Margaret, William Simmonds, for whose sculptures the Gardiners made the bases, Girton College, Cambridge (tables and chairs for the dining room), Paul Beard, leader of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Cheltenham College, Sir Stafford Cripps, Mr Keene, the local vet and Stanley Hamp, the London architect who owned Lillyhorn House, where they made the walnut panelling in the hall and the chestnut paneling in the lounge.
Other local people remember similar pieces of furniture made for special occasions and realise now how fortunate they are to own such beautifully crafted furniture.
Sally Hornby, who lived at Iles Green recalled using money given her on her twenty-first birthday to buy a desk made by Fred. It was a scaled clown copy of her father's oak desk designed by the Barnsley brothers. Her desk was in walnut from a tree grown in Oakridge with keyholes picked out in holly. The cost was £39. She also knows that Fred's first commission when he started up on his own was for four walnut chairs ordered for her by her father.
Sally also remembers that Fred had a fine voice and was for many years a member of the church choir. He took part in many entertainments and plays produced in the village too.
Fred appears in William Rothenstein's portrait of Cotswold craftsmen.
All of the furniture featured above, and several further items, were made for Mr & Mrs Cecil Young of Oakridge late 1940's / early 1950's upon their marriage.
From The Stroud Journal, Sept 19th 1947
For hundreds of years, the secluded villages in the Cotswolds have brought forth their own particular craftsmen; but now, with the introduction of modern machinery, they have to some extent been forgotten and remain just a cherished memory. Those who remain have, however, lost none of their skill and still pursue their respective crafts whenever the opportunitv arises. One craftsman who is still as busy as ever supplying the needs of people throughout the length and bredth of the land, is Mr. F. P. Gardiner of Oakridge, in his fifty ninth year. Mr. Fred Percy Gardiner to give him his full name, has gained for himself a fine reputation for his skill in wood not only in the immediate district but throughout the country, and he is hardworked to fulfil the many orders he receives.
It was with Mr. Malcom Powell, a great friend of Mr. E. W. Gimson that Mr. Gardiner began his long climb to success. Later he worked with Mr. Gimson, and it is interesting to learn that during his seven years apprenticeship his earnings for the week ranged from 1/6 for the first year, to 2/6 for the second year, 4/6 for the third. 7/6 for the fifth, and 15/- for the sixth.
A few years atter the first world war Mr. Gardiner started with Mr. Waals, at Chalford when the latter began his business, and then about five years later until the outbreak of the second world war worked in his own workshop at home. During the second war he was employed at Messrs. Tyler's Ltd., but has been back at his own bench just over a year.
His favourite wood for his high class hand made furniture is English walnut, but at the present he uses mostly English oak.
Mr. Gardiner's work is on show in various parts of the country and some of it overseas. He helped to make a war memorial erected in Kent at the end of the 1914-1918 war, and helped to make the screen on the Tower Side of Stroud Parish Church. When Mr. Gimson was alive, Mr. Gardiner used his skill in fashioning the interior woodwork of the newly erected Cathedral at Khartoum in Egypt.
Only recently he made a pair of chairs which were presented to Mr. Charles Forrest at the Oakridge Flower Show.
Mr. Gardiner is helped in his workshop by his, son, Philip who has begun work with his father after being demobolised from the Royal Signals.
Asked further about his exhibits, Mr. Gardiner showed our representative a copy of the back page of a Daily Mirror in 1928. It containded a photograph of an Italian miniature house which he had made, and was exhibited at the Exhibition of Decorative Art at the Claridge Gallery, London.
Of the " modern chaps, " he d'id not think that they were craftsmen, for the work was prepared for them. They had not " to start from scratch and sort things out."
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