Contact Us
< Home

Earning a Living

No matter what the weather or time of year the Romany Gypsy Travellers of the New Forest kept themselves very busy earning a living in whatever way they could in order to provide for their families. They were not afraid of hard work and given the chance would work for many hours making the most of their numerous talents.

Forest Workers including Dennis Sherred,Jack James, Jackie James and Johnny Rose (89)
Photo courtesy of Edward Cooper

Agricultural work was the main employment for the families and they offered their services to the farms near to wherever they were camping doing whatever was needed for that season such as strawberry and potato picking and helping with the hay. Sometimes the families would travel to pick hops in Selbourne or Blackmore in Hampshire or as far away as Kent, they would also travel to pick fruit in the Midlands. This was a time when families would meet up with their friends from around the country on an annual basis.

Liberty and Violet Cooper in Southampton during the 1970’s.
Photo courtesy of Caroline Cooper.

When the families were home they continued working making items such as bee skeps and baskets made from rushes and reeds, pegs made from willow, wreaths made from holly and artificial flowers made out of crepe paper or wood shavings left over from the pegs. Most of the materials for these crafts were natural materials that they collected themselves from the forest.

Flowers were collected and taken early in the morning by the women each day to be sold in the towns, each having their regular spot to stand. Many Gypsies made their living sharpening knifes with a mobile Grinding Barrow and some collected rags and scrap for resale.

Mary Doe, Sidney Cooper and Violet Cooper (née. James)
Photo courtesy of Edward Cooper

Terms and Conditions Disclaimer Privacy Policy
© Copyright First Steps New Forest 2018 all rights reserved