The Warsop family has been hand making cricket bats since 1870 and have passed the craft down through the generations. It all began with Benjamin Warsop who moved from Nottingham to London to set up his Cricket Bat workshop in St Johns Wood. Along with the help of his four sons; Alfred, Arthur, Frank and Walter, pictured here each holding a tool of the cricket bat making trade. Though they would only be operating on a comparatively small scale at this stage, one of these early Warsop Bats won a First order of merit at the Centennial International Exhibition at Melbourne in 1888.
In this same year, B.Warsop and Sons felled a tree in Boreham, Essex which was 101 feet high and 5ft 9 inches in diameter. This enormous tree had been planted in 1835, making it three times the age of a normal cricket bat willow and felled for the ‘sole purpose of making bats’ Ben described it as ‘sound as a bell’ and subsequently made 1,179 cricket bats from it.
The order book in these first 20 years of business show that Benjamin Warsop and his sons were supply large and regular quantities of cricket bats to Slazenger, Wisden and Junior Army and Navy stores, as well as clubs, schools and individuals. In 1893 Ben received an order from the master himself; W.G. Grace Esq. 18 May 1893; 2 Patents £2 & 1 Patent £1, this is presumed to be the price of their most famed bat at the time, the 'Conqueror'
At the turn of the century, The workshops moved from Charles Street to another part of St Johns Wood; Park Road which was to the south of Lord's Cricket Ground. The workshop was situated down a broad Alley called Grove Gardens, which backed onto the Regents Canal and the railway line. Benjamin was joined at this time by George Hunt who had learnt his trade from Venables of Lee Green, Blackheath, Stuart Surridge and George Bussey, he stayed with the firm for more than half a century. In 1907, after six years of working together they were in the big league supplying Harrods Stores Ltd and Rio Cricket & Athletic Association of Brazil with world class cricket bats.
Securing enough Willow to keep pace with the increasing orders became a problem and in 1909 a timber account was started and a drive to find new growers. The news that Warsop were looking for Willow trees for cricket bat making spread around and letters poured in from county councils and estate owners. At the outbreak of war in 1914, Benjamin was fortunate to have a full stock of willow and probably had to buy comparatively few clefts in the following five years, when he began buying again in 1919 prices had risen considerably.
OLD VIDEO ABOUT WATLER WARSOP
N.B. Rebecca Warsop is currently researching the history of her family and will add more recent details as she discovers more.
This 200 year old family recipe is used to hand craft the finest bat possible for you. Let us take some time to explore the story of its making.
The timber is selected from the finest cuts of Essex willow supplies (including the special 'butterfly' willow). These 'clefts' as they are known are the raw basis from which the blade will be crafted.
Each cleft is then inspected to establish the best use for the timber. For example, timber with a close strong grain on the right will be used for a right handed bat, avoiding splits on outside edging that might otherwise occur (the opposite is true for left handed bats). The wood is then shaped down to a near finished size. Great care is taken to shape around the best part of the timber, keeping it as the 'sweet spot' of the hitting surface and then the shoulder is turned on a craftsman's lathe. The blade, as it is now known then goes on to the next process.
An important stage is now reached when the bat is pressed to the required pressure. This will vary from wood piece to wood piece. Our years of experience in pressing allows the Willow Wood's natural spring to be maintained. The natural air pockets in the wood are kept and not over-pressed out of the timber which would causes the bat to feel dead and to vibrate through its length. Too little would also be undesirable causing splinters and splits to occur. Our expertise lies in the great care and judgement required for the hand pressing of each bat to perfection. The shoulders are then hand turned on the bat ready for joining to the handle.
The handles are made from Rattan Cane which is imported from the world's main centre of supply in Malaysia. Unlike some bat maker's, we import full lengths of cane and do not take not pre-cut or pre-spliced handles. These lengths of cane are then inspected to cut a piece of timber that has a strong feel to it and not what is known a 'pudding' type feel. This piece is then spliced and joined with as many rubber inlays as you request although two are normally supplied.
Our secret formula glue, much like Aunt Bessie's cooking, is a magic ingredient to make the ideal, non-vibrating-type feel of the handle when used in earnest. This is used to join the spliced pieces with the rubber as well as the application of the twine to the handles. The handle is turned and shaped prior to the twining process and is shaped to your own need i.e. fat, thin, 4, 5, 6, Harrow and Short, Medium or Long handled; not forgetting the normal oval shape that is so useful for maintaining a firm grip under the pressure of a shot. Various weights and balances are produced and bats can also be made to a one-one matched specification on request.
The Blades are then formed to a near finished size and kept to the maximum legal size of (e.g. 4 ¼" wide).
The finishing of the bat is now performed with the multi abrasive machines bringing the surface to size and finish. During this process a special piece of wood called 'lignum vitae', known as the wood of life, is used to produce a natural resin final polished protective finish and then it is then passed to the next process.
The blade's V is then cut, taking care for left and right-handed bats and the V's are cut and shaped to match each bats and handle to and individually perfect fit. This is then also glued with the secret formula glue. The handle is fitted at a slight angle (look down the face of the blade and you will see it is raised up at the handle to produce a better angle of approach to the ball. (Remember this and don't stand bats against a wall or worse a radiator - they're best kept in the shed).
Now the Warsop-Stebbing hand made bats logo is applied. You can even have your personal name incorporated into the transfer (see pricelist). The bat is then given a single quality grip or 2 grips if you feel it’s required. At this point the bat is 'boned' on the edges. This is done by dragging the edges of the bat along a strong piece of wood such as 'ebony' to take the sharp edge off the bat. A variety of protection can now be applied (at little extra cost) from edging tape (f.o.c), through toe caps to full-face poly anti-scuff surface protectors.
The bat is then put in the complimentary bat cover and dispatched as requested. Visitors to the factory are always welcome and a factory shop is there for you to pick and feel the bat to see it suits you before purchase. We are also known for our quality accessories such as hats, helmets, shoes and clothing as well as bags, gloves and pads.