In 1904 the artist Walter Witter, a teacher of arts and crafts, and his wife Marie (born Marian Gaskell) of Freewaters Cottage, Ickleford built a workroom beside their cottage to house the 25-30 men and women whom they employed, and taught, in the art of making beaten brass and copper work, and needlework. Two years later they added a second building to create a tapestry workroom and a forge for the wrought iron. The history of the Witter family and their very successful Industry in Applied Arts in Ickleford was celebrated with an exhibition earlier this year (2017), and the display boards from the exhibition tell the story of this industry eloquently. Examples of the brass and copper work, pewter and tapestries, catalogues and family photos, are on the Witter Collection website.
Our thanks to Bob Press who edited the text and images, Phillips Digital of Letchworth who published them, to the Witter Collection for text, photos and postcards, and to Roger Thorp and Gerry Tidy who also contributed images. The Bedfordshire Times and Independent of 1910 is the source of much of the information.
There is a correction to make: the photo of Walter Witter’s brother Arthur is labelled Alfred, though in the body text it is correct.