Sunday 11 December 2016

Bulrushes harvested as old tradition revived

Published 14/08/2016 | 18:41

Anna Toulson and Gemma Whittle from Waveney Rush harvest bulrushes along the banks of the River Waveney in Suffolk.
Anna Toulson and Gemma Whittle from Waveney Rush harvest bulrushes along the banks of the River Waveney in Suffolk.
Staff members from Waveney Rush walk bulrushes along the River Waveney after they were harvested from the river bank at Homersfield, Suffolk.
Paul Blowers (left) and Millie Baxter from Waveney Rush harvest bulrushes along the banks of the River Waveney at Homersfield in Suffolk.
(Left to right) Millie Baxter, Gemma Whittle and Paul Blowers from Waveney Rush walk bulrushes along the River Waveney after they were harvested from the river bank at Homersfield, Suffolk.
Bulrushes harvested from the banks of the River Waveney at Homersfield in Suffolk.
Staff members from Waveney Rush walk bulrushes along the River Waveney after they were harvested from the river bank at Homersfield, Suffolk.
Anna Toulson (left) and Gemma Whittle from Waveney Rush harvest bulrushes along the banks of the River Waveney at Homersfield in Suffolk.
Gemma Whittle and Paul Blowers, from Waveney Rush, walk bulrushes along the River Waveney after they were harvested from the river bank at Homersfield, Suffolk.

Craftsmen are using short sickles to harvest bulrushes in a Suffolk river for the first time in half a century.

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Anna Toulson, owner of Waveney Rush, said the traditional company, founded in 1947, had imported rushes since the 1960s when supply became scarce.

But when the Environment Agency and the Broads Authority alerted them to an overgrown one-mile stretch of river they leapt at the opportunity.

The section of the River Waveney, near Bungay in Suffolk, was too shallow and narrow for weed-cutting boats.

"We're going in to get the rushes to make things with which is great, but also to help the river course by taking out debris to allow it to run better," she said.

In medieval times rushes were used as floor-covering and for mattresses.

A team of eight weavers at Waveney Rush will handcraft bespoke carpets and baskets once the drying process is completed.

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