“After the war they wanted to collect them back in, but we wouldn’t part with ours,” he says. “In winter time our roads can get blocked with snow, and we’ve always been able to reach any fire long before the engines come.” The last of these occurrences was about two years ago, he recalls, when they successfully stopped a fire spreading in the village.
The workshop is not the only part of Dufton that has been unaltered by the passage of time. In fact, the village itself has the feeling of being perched comfortably in an earlier period, with its 17th, 18th and 19th century houses surrounded by rolling hills.
A main feature is the fountain built there by members of the Quaker-owned London Lead Company, who developed the village. Its Latin inscription reads: “There is a clear pool, whose waters gleam like silver. It is not tainted by shepherds, or by their she-goats grazing on the mountain. Nor is it muddied by cattle, or by birds or wild animals, or by a branch fallen from a tree”, which seems to sum up Dufton’s untainted nature.
Nestled in this fitting environment, the Rudds’ work continues steadily. Before tractors became common, the rakes were used almost exclusively for hay timing. Today, this function is less common, but they are still used for purposes such as raking leaves and smoothing the sand in golf club bunkers and long-jump pits. As a result, John explains, demand continues all year round, rather than being seasonal. “It’s steady now, rather than being a mad rush for three months as it once was,” he says.
But what of the future? Is there another Rudd to carry on the family’s work? While Graeme does have a son, neither of the men intends to put any pressure on him.
“I’ll probably keep doing it, but I don’t know about my son,” Graeme says. “He’s six, and when I was six I was already coming in here quite often to help, and he doesn’t seem too interested. It’s up to him. But it’s nice being your own boss; I would certainly encourage him to do that. It has its plus sides.”
This aspect, John agrees, is one of the job’s better perks. “We don’t make a lot of money, but as Graeme says you’ve got your independence and you’re only working for yourself.”
“We’ll certainly carry on making rakes for a good while,” he says. “It’s what we’ve always done.”