Here are some pictures from the mid 1920`s, copied from 9x12cm Ernemann glass plates. They show two almost forgotten professions: The barrel-maker and the blacksmith for coaches ( hope this is the right translation, please correct if it`s wrong ). I noticed that there are only a few of those, who build a barrel the traditional way left in Austria and I don`t know if the cartwheel-making profession is still alive ( maybe for restauration purposes ).
I don't know about barrel making but being able to restore old horse drawn conveyances is a skill that is sought after and pays well enough. It is surprising in this day and age that many supposedly arcane skills can still provide a good living to those who can do them well.
Very interesting pictures, Mik, with an interesting history.
Barrel making and wheel making are two of the oldest, and most numerous, recorded manufacturing trades in England, both going back to the seventh and eighth centuries, and both very skilled trades.
A barrel maker was known as a cooper (coop from the German word kup or container). Coopers always worked in wood. A person who made metal containers, usually in bronze, was known as a cowper (cow derived from an Anglo-Saxon word for bronze).
A wheelmaker was a wheelwright (wright being the modern spelling for an Anglo-Saxon word meaning maker).
Quite often, the wheels were made by the person who made the whole wagon, in which case he was known as a wainwright (wain from the Anglo-Saxon word for wagon).
After surviving for about twelve or thirteen hundred years, the trades of wheelwright, wainwright and cooper just about died out, though the names survive as English surnames.
You still find a few wainwrights and wheelwrights who restore, or make replicas of, old horse-drawn vehicles. You sometimes see them demonstrating their skills at County Shows and other similar events, but they are very few compared with the thousands who used to work in almost every town and village in England. I believe some coopers still work for distilleries who advertise that their products are "aged in the wood", but again they are very few.
Nothing really to do with photography, except old photographs, but interesting - well, to me at least, but I'm just a left-over from an earlier era.
Here's a picture from 1948, when wooden barrels were still common, of cider being delivered to a pub.