Welsh Hay Rakes

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Joined: 16 Aug 2017, 20:59

Welsh Hay Rakes

Post by Shorthorn » 21 Aug 2017, 16:24

The County View for South Wales, published in 1814, contains an odd description of a hay rake used in Monmouthshire:

"The tines are double the length of those of common rakes, being driven through the head, so as to be of equal length on both sides. The head makes a bevel angle with the handle, and not a right angle as the common rakes of other countries. At work, the acute angle formed by the bend and handle, is always next the person using it; and the advantage of it is, that he need not step his foot backward at every reach. At the end of the row, when he turns back and changes his hand, he must also turn the side of the rake, so as to have the obtuse angle always farthest from him. Common rakes have their tine inclining inward, so as to run smoothly along the surface of the ground; but these bevel-headed rakes have their tine at right angle with the square of the head, and perhaps consequently more objectionable; notwithstanding either their superiority, or the singularity of their make, causes them to [be] sent for into some parts of England. The tine may be fixed to as to incline inward on both sides."

The description suggests the author did not understand exactly what he was looking at but it doesn't tally with any rakes I have come across. I think I have seen some examples in museums where the rake handle is at acute angles to the head but nothing to match this. Has anyone else come across a hay rake matching this description?

Alan Wadsworth
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Joined: 26 Jun 2017, 11:04

Re: Welsh Hay Rakes

Post by Alan Wadsworth » 23 Aug 2017, 17:53

I think you may be correct, that the original author is less than clear what he is saying.

In particular, he says that the Welsh design means that the user "need not step his foot backward at every reach". Well, having used a conventional rake as a lad (and since), I have never had to step backward - to have to do that would be exceedingly tedious and your productivity would be poor as a result - you just walk forward and rake the hay, with the rake slightly behind you - once you get the rhythm going, then you can rake all day. Further, when you reach the end of the row (assuming that you are not working round and round the field as we did in a gang of three or more) you just change hands and off you go again - in fact, the change relieves your body position.

Have to say, I haven't seen any of these obtuse double-sided rakes - but will look out for them.

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