Lailey, George (bowl turner)

Date: 1900-1950sExtent: 163 objects
Wooden bowl made by George Lailey bowl turner
Wooden bowl. MERL 63/49

George William Lailey of Bucklebury Common, Berkshire, was a famous bowl turner who for nearly eighty years practiced his craft in a small hut on the common. George Lailey, the eldest of eleven children, started work with his father, William Lailey, who, like his father, was also a bowl-turner. When his father died, George Lailey took over the family business. During the First World War all the employees left him but he was exempted from military service because his bowls were used as ladles in munition factories. Lailey died in December 1958, but had no successor for the business. During his lifetime, the fame of the Bucklebury bowls spread far and wide. His bowls grew from being sold locally in the Reading and Newbury markets to selling in London stores and overseas.

The Lailey collection of bowl turning tools was presented by his niece, Miss M. E. Matthews and consists of Lailey’s hut, tools and equipment. There are also 59 pieces made by Lailey held by the museum.

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