The Rocking Horse Shop

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Thursday, 15 December 2011

Christmas opening times and A Merry Christmas from all at The Rocking Horse Shop

The Rocking Horse Shop staff would like to wish all it's customers a very Happy christmas and a Wonderful New Year.

Please note our shop will be closed from 12 noon on the 23rd December and will re-open Tuesday 9am on the 3rd January.  Although the shop will be closed you can still place your order on line.

Best wishes
The Rocking Horse Shop

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Rocking Horse Restoration - Identifying Old Rocking Horse Makers

Getting to know Rocking Horses

Over the last 35 years The Rocking Horse Shop have restored hundreds of Rocking Horses and below we look at one of the most prestigious makers of traditional Victorian Rocking Horses - F H Ayres.


Among the half dozen or so historic makers of wooden rocking horses which are readily identifiable by name, Ayres horses are generally regarded as the best. As with all hand crafted artifacts, there is some variation in the quality of the finished article, so although all Ayres horses are good, some are better than others. For example the smaller and medium sized horses and some of the large ones tend to be a bit more basic than others in the provision of carved detail, presumably because these horses were made with more of an eye to price, and perhaps more junior, less experienced carvers.

Even among the bigger and better horses there are interesting variations. Thus two of the large carved Ayres horses may be more or less identical in size and have similar carved detailing, but one (for example the one with three seats pictured here) has some thing about it which makes it better than its twin.

This is a very large and very unusual Ayres three seater.
The metalwork for the end seats is original, but the remains of the original wooden seats and footrests were so worm eaten they were beyond repair and replacements were made, using the remains, as far as possible, as patterns to determine the shape and size of the new seats and footrests.
The difference between the two horses are small, but significant. When asked to say which of the two they prefer, people invariably choose the first one. This is the one with 'star quality' and is due, presumably, to the fact that it must have been made by a carver who had just that bit better eye and talent (or was having a particularly good day). Suffice it to say that the best of the Ayres horses serve as a model of the epitome of the traditional Victorian rocking horse. Many a maker has looked with awe at a really fine Ayres horse and thought, 'I would love to be able to make something that good'.

The company was founded in 1864 by Fredrick Henry Ayres and operated from an address in Aldersgate, London. Little is known about the man, but it seems the company depended very much on his personality; in his heyday when he was at his most active and declining as he grew old. The company had its most prolific period between about 1875 and the early 1900s. The company described itself as a 'manufacturer of Indoor and Outdoor Games and Sports' and as well as its excellent rocking horses produced a wide range of sporting goods, including billiard tables, tennis rackets, cricket bats and equipment, croquet sets and board games. F.H.Ayres was eventually bought out by a Yorkshire company called Sykes and Co in 1940, though the name lived on for some time after that.

Makers marks are rarely in evidence, though sometimes an 'F.H.Ayres' black coloured stamp can be found under the belly. If you are very lucky you may find a white mark nailed onto the top stand rail in the shape of a horizontal H and bearing the words 'Manufactured by Ayres London', and Patricia Mullins also mentions a transfer found on a stand base consisting of a union flag with the words 'British Manufacture' incorporating a device of a Maltese Cross and the words 'Registered Trade Mark'. Black stencilled lettering is quite often to be found on the stand base, usually giving the name of the shop which supplied the horse – eg 'Selfridge', 'A.W.Gamage Ltd, London', 'Harrods Knightsbridge' (in italic script), 'Baker's Kensington' and also sometimes the simple legend 'Patented Jan 29 1880'. This last refers to the registration in Britain of Philip Marqua of Cincinatti's patent for the swing iron safety stand, the patent having been first issued two years previously in the USA. Presumably Ayres had acquired the right to use this patent (as did Lines, followed by virtually all the other rocking horse makers. I hope Marqua benefited from this patent; it was such a good idea everyone wanted to use it, and did!).
Later in 1887 Ayres filed a patent for a horse whose head and neck could be made to swivel to the left and right. The pivot is a great long bolt which passes through the body of the horse from beneath into the neck and the head is made to return to the centre by means of a pin set into the underside of the neck and which locates into a long spring set into an arc shaped trench. A wide strip of thin leather conceals the join between neck and body. It was a simple arrangement and was intended to be employed on large horses mounted on safety stands as well as on a tricycle mounted horse. These swivel head horses are very rare and it is hard to imagine Ayres made very many.

A fine large Ayres Rocking Horse, fully restored. 
The wide leather strap round the neck conceals a join,
for this is an example of the very rare swivel head horse.
Patricia Mullins mentions another patent filed in 1914 by F.H.Ayres and one Thomas Freeman, for a rather interesting looking rocking horse mounted on an arrangement of springs and levers. The drawings do not make it clear how the horse could rock in practise, and it is not known if many or any of these were actually made. Ayres made about eight sizes of rocking horses and sometimes a black stencilled number can be found on the base of the stand, which indicates the size. In the absence of a makers mark the easiest way to begin to identify an Ayres horse is by examining the design of the stand. Large Ayres horses were fitted with four hole iron brackets and the bottom stand rails and cross pieces often have big chamfers, the top rails having very small chamfers, little more than a rounding over of the corners. The largest horses have very heavy stands, the lower part of the base being made of 2 ½ x 7 ½ inch timber (usually pine) with the cross pieces half jointed into the bottom rail and a 2 x 5 ¼ inch top rail, again employing the four hole iron brackets.

The Medium and Large horses are fitted with
the four hole type of steel bracket.
Hoof rails of the larger horses have a section cut away in the mid part (usually parallel but sometimes curved), and are wider at the ends where the hooves are secured and the swing irons pass through. The posts are of a distinctive design, usually beech, threaded at the bottom, with 1 inch spigots (surprisingly thin considering the massive surrounding timber on the largest of the stands) and wedges at the top.

Typical Ayres design stand post.
The smaller models have stand posts of a simpler design and simple pressed steel three hole swing iron brackets. The ends of most Ayres hoof rails are cut and chamfered at angles to leave a small diamond or hexagonal shape at the extreme ends. The lower ends of the swing irons are riveted over the washer rather than using split pins and they did not employ 'bowler hat' covers.

The horses made by Ayres have many distinguishing features, easier to spot in the pictures (and with experience) than to describe here in words.

Taken from Issue 3 of The Rocking Horse & Toy Magazine © The Rocking Horse Shop Ltd

F H Ayres Rocking Horse brought to
The Rocking Horse Shop for restoration.

The above F H Ayres Rocking Horse
Restored by
The Rocking Horse Shop

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Friday, 11 November 2011

The North of England Woodworking & Power Tool Show.

The Rocking Horse Shop will be at The North of England Woodworking & Power Tool Show, 18 to 20th November, Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate.

Click here to take you to their website for more information.

Christmas Special Offers at The Rocking Horse Shop

Looking for that special Christmas gift for a woodworking enthusiast?

Our book The Complete Rocking Horse Maker
In this comprehensive and practical book, Anthony Dew distills the knowledge gained during more than 25 years as a rocking horse designer, maker and restorer.

DVD Making Rocking Horses
In this professionally produced video Anthony Dew shows you all the processes & techniques involved in making a real Victorian style rocking horse.

DVD Making Rocking Horses 2
How to make your own laminated 'Rocky' and 'Little Rocky' Rocking Horse. A complete visual guide for home woodworkers.

All on special offer at £10 each until 23rd December 2011.
Click here and order that special someone a Christmas gift.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The Rocking Horse Shops Biggest Hand Carved Rocking Horse 'Bigger Bertie' at Worldskills London 2011

The Rocking Horse Shop at Worldskills London 2011, giving people the opportunity to have a go at carving the worlds largest hand carved Rocking Horse. See some fantastic pictures.


after the WorldSkills show in London last week.

A lot of heads turned as we bowled along the motorway to and from London, and at the show Bigger Bertie got his photo taken a zillion times - an experience fit to swell the head of even the biggest hand-carved rocking horse in the world!

It was a fantastic show and large numbers of people got to have a go at carving Bigger Bertie's tail - and he brought a smile to the faces of everyone who passed.

Now, glad to be back in his home yard in Yorkshire, he needs to have the remaining parts of his body carved and finished, and his tail fitted. But before that he needs a rest, and is in fact going into hibernation for the winter, sheeted up against the cold. Christmas is coming and there's work to be done for Santa Claus.

We'll be writing up the story of all the adventures on Bigger Bertie's first outing, and post any more news that crops up about Bigger Bertie - and if you've got any pics you'ld like to share, do let us know. Bigger Bertie will soon be rocking again, in the spring.

love, BB

Monday, 3 October 2011


to Bigger Bertie's first outing. Well, no days really, since all tomorrow (Tuesday) we'll be travelling toward London. Watch out for a monster horse rolling south down the M1.

Is Bigger Bertie finished? Well no. There are two reasons for this (apart from the hurricane that blew away our outside workshop).

First, at the show we are going to - WorldSkills at the ExCeL centre, London - we are in the Have-A-Go section, so we thought you might like something to do. So come along and help us carve some bits for Bertie, especially his tail.

Second, we ran out of wood.

Whatever, it's safe to say, Bigger Bertie Rocks.

Sunday, 2 October 2011


to the WorldSkills show (starts Wednesday) and Bigger Bertie's first outing (we'll be setting off from here around seven on Tuesday morning).

I (Anthony Dew, maker) have now, as well as the head, neck, hooves and most of one leg, carved one shoulder. The rest of the body and legs are yet to be finished. There are two reasons for the incomplete nature of Bigger Bertie as he stands now.

First, our part of the WorldSkills show is in the 'Have-A-Go' section at the ExCeL centre, so we've got the tail and some body parts ready for the public (ie you, interested?) to come in and have a go at a bit of real woodcarving. Then we'll return to our Yorkshire workshop to finish the carving at our leisure (this is leisure?).

Second, we've run out of wood.

My apologies for the lack of pics these last few days - I hope to get some of the latest impressions attached to this post today.

Bigger Bertie eh). He's a monster and he ROCKS!

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Pictures of Rocking Horse Bigger Bertie

Just a few pictures from yesterdays busy day at The Rocking Horse Shop.
Bigger Berties really rocks......

Fantastic job Tony, it was worth all the sweat, blood and Janes tears!!!


to Bigger Bertie's first outing.

So how do you assemble the head, body and four legs of a wooden rocking horse that weighs, at a guess, upwards of half a ton, and put it up on its rockers?

Answer: you call in the help of the inestimable Mark Whiting and his son Tom, local builders extraordinary and strong willing men capable of solving any practical problem of even the most unusual kind.

They, together with their big fork lift truck and the help of the previously mentioned Ewen (and Graham), got Bigger Bertie's legs and hoof rails glued and bolted on, put him upright, lifted him onto his enormous rockers, and put his head on. All in great style and with huge humour.

He now stands peering in through my wife Shirley and my bedroom window, and we've cracked open a bottle or two of the good wine to celebrate.

Yes, it's true folks, Bigger Bertie ROCKS!

Friday, 30 September 2011


to Bigger Bertie's first outing to London (WorldSkills, ExCeL centre).

I have been carving the legs and fitting the eyes (the replacement for the broken one has arrived, fortunately, saving Bigger Bertie from having to travel with an eye patch on, so he's looking good); Karl is fitting the platform for the rockers; Shirley's painting; Jane's tweeting; Sam's working on the massive body.

Bigger Bertie's body is essentially a box, and seeing a horse's body that big has lead to some suggestions that therein might lie an answer to the Greek debt problem. I doubt it's that big.

We've been blessed with glorious weather this week and it's been a pleasure to work on Bigger Bertie outside. We couldn't have done it inside anyway - we'd never have got him out of the building. Since our marquee (ie the outside workshop) blew away in the hurricane, several people have asked what we'd do if the weather turned nasty again. The answer is we'd be  .....ed!

The sun is forecast to shine again today, so I'm getting all excited in anticipation of Bigger Bertie's erection.

More tomorrow, when Bigger Bertie will really be ROCKING!

Thursday, 29 September 2011


to Bigger Bertie's first outing,

and his body is now coming together, with Sam fixing parts on at a great rate. Ewen is varnishing the giant rockers and we had to dash out for more when the varnish pot runs dry.

We have started to cut out and assemble the tail. This is one part we'll be asking members of the public to come in and 'Have A Go' at at carving - under our supervision of course - at WorldSkills next Wednesday to Friday at the ExCeL Centre in London's docklands.

Still no sign of Bigger Bertie's missing eye so he may have to go winking, but we're on track for his major erection come Saturday.

Then Bigger Bertie will really rock!

Wednesday, 28 September 2011


the countdown continues to Bigger Bertie's first outing to London...

We now, at last, have the huge rockers assembled. Sam, Karl, me and Ewen (my regular helper who is studying landscape and garden design and who has just won, top prize, at his part of the WorldSkills competition, the prizegiving next week at the EcCeL centre) all lend muscle (and many good suggestions too).

We heave the two eight and a half metre long rockers upright and hang them on two scaffolding towers, then connect the four cross pieces, each of which is a two man job to lift, by gluing and bolting them in place, then the two turned end pieces. 'It's easy, just like a big Ikea kit', Karl says. I'm wondering if it will work.

Then we lower it to the ground and, lo and behold, it rocks. It's brilliant, like a massive see-saw, and MD Jane rushes out to have ago. 'This is great!' she cries, 'Hey, not so fast, you're scaring me.'

So. Bigger Bertie has rockers - he will ROCK!

Bigger Bertie's Bow Rockers are being assembled.

Bigger Bertie's Bow Rockers are out in the yard, construction has started, the worlds largest hand carved Rocking Horse is being born........

Tuesday, 27 September 2011


to Bigger Bertie's first outing and (you might think this is a bit late in the day) I am now starting to believe he will come together OK.

Today young Karl (who's real passion is chain-saw carving but we're trying to show him a bit of real woodwork) has been making the slatted platform to go on the base of the rockers. Rocking-horse carver extraordinaire Sam Glass has been making and gluing on components for the body (the main assembly of which is tomorrow afternoon) while I have been doing the final sanding of the rockers (which we are going to assemble tomorrow morning) and (with the help of my lovely wife Shirley) stencilling our website on the sides.

Also, Jane entertained a crowd of visiting Yorkshire businessfolk to a crack of dawn 'working' breakfast that went on until morning coffee (luckily there were enough croissants left over for everyone to have a taste or several) and we smiled as another press photographer come for a sneak preview of Bigger Bertie.

How could anyone fail to feel positive with such a lot of constructive effort going on, and on such a fine sunny day? I touch wood (an occupational constant for a wooden toymaker) and Shirley prays that the rest of the project goes so well.

Rocking Horse Head Carving Course, September 2011

Last week 6 enthusiastic woodworkers joined us at The Rocking Horse Shop to carve their Rocking Horse Heads.

After spending 3 days with master carver Anthony Dew they all finished carving their beautiful Rocking Horse Heads and headed home to finish the rest of their horse.

If you would like to come on one of our carving courses, please check out our website for future dates.

Monday, 26 September 2011


to Bigger Bertie's first outing, to London (I keep thinking of that old music hall song - 'Maybe it's a big horse I'm a Londoner').

Anyway, we've moved the two big rockers out of the workshop, into the yard and are preparing them for assembly. This is a big relief, the eight and  then some metre long rockers have been filling the workshop and Sam & Karl have been falling over them all the time, as they keep on making our regular size rocking horses while Bigger Bertie is under construction.

Couldn't be helped though, since we lost our 'outside workshop'. We'd kept a marquee up since our village festival, Fangfest (I know, Fangfest sounds more like a mad dentist's jamboree but is in fact our annual celebration of art & craft) and had used it to prepare parts for Bigger Bertie. But a fortnight ago the tail end of a hurricane literally blew it away, so Bigger Bertie's bits have had to be kept inside in the workshop.

Touch wood the forecast this week is fair and we're finishing and varnishing the rockers outside. Sam is making some great turmed end pieces and all is progressing.
'Is it really going to be readyin time?' folk keep asking. I reply:


Saturday, 24 September 2011


to Bigger Bertie's first public outing, to the ExCeL centre, London, and WorldSkills.

The name 'Bigger Bertie', is a comment on the fact that he (has to be a 'he', can't be an 'it', and 'she' seems inappropriate for a beast do huge) is bigger than any rocking horse we (or anyone else in their right minds, probably) have ever made before.

But the name 'Bigger Bertie' is also an 'omage to local artist made good, David 'Ockney. Mr Hockney, as you may know, has in recent years been painting lots of trees, including 'Bigger Trees', a monster painting of a grove of trees only a few miles away from The Rocking Horse Shop's workshop, here on the edge of the beautiful Wolds in East Yorkshire.

I (Anthony Dew, Bigger Bertie's maker) have never met Mr Hockney personally, but I love trees too, and I'm told (by an acquaintance) that he is a curmudgeonly old bugger (I use that word in its loosest sense) who doesn't take kindly to drivers who slow down as they pass him on the roadside at his easel and call out, 'Ere, ain't you that famous David 'Ockney artist? Give us yer autograph'. They get the thick end of his tongue (that's an old, figurative, Yorkshire expression).

Good on him. I'm a curmudgeonly old bastard (in the loosest sense) myself, and when I'm on a roll, like now, making Bigger Bertie, I don't take too kindly to interruptions either, so I'm off back to the workshop.

Remember, Bigger Bertie ROCKS!

Rocking horse winner at skill training competition

Bigger Bertie gets a mention in The York Press.

Click on The York Press above to see the article in todays paper.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011


BIGGER BERTIE'S BLOG - 14 days to go- & counting - to Bigger Bertie's first outing.

Today we start to assemble Bigger Bertie's body, and turn over his huge rockers (a 3, no 4 man job!) to cut the joints on the other side.
So, I said I'd tell you how Bigger Bertie came about ...

About 2 years ago a lady ordered a rocking horse from us at The Rocking Horse Shop. Nothing unusual about that - we've been designing and making the most beautiful rocking horses for over 35 years - but what was unusual was that the lady in question was (and is) a conceptual artist who was intending to create an Art (with a big A) performance or happening in, on or around the rocking horse. She wanted her rocking horse to be very big, so we used Bertie as our model.
Now Bertie is a real life horse who lives here in the yard. He is a beautiful animal, a deep bay colour, very gentle, and Adeline & her Mum Ruth who ride him, absolutely dote on him. We love him too. At 17 hands high Bertie is big, but our new wooden rocking-horse needed to 'go large', so he - we nick-named him 'Big Bertie', wound up a bit over 5 metres long (in practical terms that was the length of 2 sheets of plywood). He dwarfed poor old Bertie, who didn't quite know what to make of Big Bertie.
 Big Bertie was great success but when he had been bought, paid for, delivered and was gone, we all felt rather sad. Maybe, we said, just for fun, we should make another huge rocking horse, an even  bigger one this time, which will be the biggest hand carved rocking horse in the world. And this time we'll keep him. Hence Bigger Bertie.

And you know something? BIGGER BERTIE will really ROCK!
More manana.

Monday, 19 September 2011


15 days to go to Bigger Bertie's first outing...

Today I chopped the recess for Bigger Bertie's great glass eye (fashioned specially by brilliant glass artisan Steve Collins of Studio 63). We only have one eye, the other was broken in the post, so until Steve can get us another made Bigger Bertie is winking, or half asleep. But his one eye is definitely the business.
Today we also cut the joints in the 6.5 metre long hoof rails. The hooves will be joined to these rails which are fixed to the cross pieces which, in turn, are fixed to the rockers. It's all clever stuff and it's all taken longer than I expected, but Sam Glass (rocking-horse maker extraordinaire and no relation to Steve the glass eye maker above, is back from holiday so can help with the heavier bits.
Now to begin building Bigger Bertie's board box body - what a lot of blooming Bs!
I made a mistake yesterday (I'm new to the bloggosphere) - the WorldSkills show is at the ExCeL centre in London and runs from 5th to 8th October. You can come and see Bigger Bertie there. He'll be ready.

Tomorrow I'll tell you how he got his name.

Sunday, 18 September 2011



16 days to go before Bigger Bertie's first outing - today (being Sunday) he's lounging in the workshop - I just popped in to look at him and ask myself this, can we make this humungous pile of monster parts transform into the biggest hand carved rocking horse? In a little over two weeks?

Today, Bigger Bertie is this: a lovely big hand carved horse's head and neck, full of charm and character and beautifully fashioned (if I says it myself what carved it) almost finished and with one gargantuan gleaming glass eye (more anon of the other eye and monster eyes in general), a pair of huge rockers 8.56metres long (that's 28 feet in old money - SOME ROCKER!), four legs (each approx 3 metres long and if I want to turn one over I have to enlist the help of a burly bloke, though fortunately burly blokes are in plentiful supply here at The Rocking Horse Shop) - and a large pile of miscellaneous rockers and body parts - and yet the answer (to the question will Bigger Bertie be ready to rock by the 4th Oct when we'll be rocking on down the M1 on our way to London's ExCell Centre and WorldSkills? - look it up) is YES!

Today, Sunday, we rest. Tomorrow we are working on Bigger Bertie's body.
We have decided this: BIGGER BERTIE ROCKS!
Watch this space.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

European Woodworking Show 1st & 2nd October, Cressing Temple Barns, Essex

European Woodworking Show 1st & 2nd October, Cressing Temple Barns, Essex

Now in it's 3rd year and growing with quality every year The Rocking Horse Shop are once again looking forward to attending The European Woodworking Show.  It  is fast becoming the most interesting woodworking weekend in the UK. With top class demonstrators from the UK & overseas across a breadth of woodworking disciplines and crafts. Expect to see wheelwrighting to woodturning, different forms of carving to chairmaking, basketmaking to bodging, sharpening to pyrography, boatbuilding to furniture making & much more.

See the video from last year, we look forward to seeing you this year.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Fangfest 2011

Another fantastic Fangfest weekend in the village of Fangfoss, everyone had a great time.  Just a few photos from the event......

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Tony really rocks in his line of work

Tony really rocks in his line of work - see our article in the York Press

Fangfest Festival of Practical Arts 3rd & 4th September

Fangfest Festival of Practical Arts 3rd & 4th September
A celebration of Traditional Crafts
9am to 4pm both days
FREE Entry, FREE Parking

The final preparations are underway for this years Fangfest. 
Fangfest returns this weekend with an even bigger line up than ever, offering a fun filled day out for all the family.
The group behind this great event try to offer something for everyone.  From talks and demonstrations by professional craftsmen, to a flower festival in the church and free children’s activities such as painting pots, craft work and a whole range of other activities to keep the very young to the very old interested.
“We are very excited about Fangfest this year, especially as Tony Dew is attempting to make the worlds largest wooden hand carved rocking horse.  We have made a big one before but this is even bigger and  we plan to take it to Worldskills London 2011 in October.” Says Jane Cook, from The Rocking Horse Shop “ When finished our horse will be 5.3m high and 6.5m long!, we want everyone to come along and have a look”.
For those looking for  unusual gifts the craft marquee holds 20 different stalls of wonderful handmade items including hand turned pens, jewellery, dolls clothes, stained glass gifts, jams & preserves, watercolour greeting cards, corn dollies, traditional wooden toys and many more.  
Children’s author Tony Fraise will be reading his stories to the children and visitors can take a pony & trap ride around the village, have a go at a potters wheel, try their hand at clay shooting and archery, join in the fun of the fair, listen to live music at the pub and enjoy the facilities at the award winning Jubilee Park.
The vintage car rally expends every year and this year is no exception. Chris White organiser of the car show says “   It's fabulous so see  all the regular cars every year and we openly invite anyone with a classic car or motor bike to bring it along to the show. So many magnificent classic vehicles are hidden away in this area, it would be lovely to see them over the Fangfest weekend. No need to book just come along.”
Fangfest also helps many charitable organisations including Macmillan, NSPCC & St Leonards Hospice as well as providing a great weekend of entertainment.
Entry and parking is FREE so come and join in the fun, a great day out for all the family. To find out more go to their website or call Jane on 01759 368737.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Friday, 19 August 2011

New DVD - Making Rocking Horses 2

Our new DVD has been released.

The new film covers all stages of making our laminated plywood horse designs for the very popular ‘Little Rocky’ chair horse for toddlers, and the Medium Sized ‘Rocky’, (as well as the new ‘Large Rocky’). The laminated form of construction is simpler to assemble and carve than traditional horses, much cheaper, very strong, and of course can be painted if you don’t care for  the remarkable swirling pattern of the laminations.
The film runs 66 minutes, plus 17 minutes of additional material with extra features including  How to sharpen carving gouges, and the story of the World’s oldest rocking horse.

Barry King from  Southport was one of the first to receive a copy of the new DVD. He says,
‘it’s really superb. You have all taken the trouble not only to show “how” but also many details and wrinkles that give confidence to tackle a new project. Your enthusiasm and obvious pleasure in creating such a joyous item is infectious. I can’t wait to complete “Boadicea” as she will be known.’

If you would like to buy the new DVD, please click here

Monday, 8 August 2011

Students Carve A Rocking Horse Head on our July carving course.

Six students joined us at The Rocking Shop in our purpose built carving studio in Yorkshire to carve their Rocking Horse Heads.

If you would like to join us on one of our courses just click here to see the dates of future courses.  We would love to see you.

Friday, 15 July 2011

On Making a Rocking Horse by Peter P. Oppenheim

When my daughter gave birth to our fourth grand-child  I decided it was about time to make a rocking horse.  I started in the usual way by asking Google for help.  As a result I discovered that there were several suppliers of rocking horse plans and supplies in Australia.  I was however particularly attracted to one retailer in the United Kingdom “The Rocking Horse Shop” in York, England.  This retailer was not only able to supply plans for traditionally carved rocking horses but also plans for laminated rocking horses.  A laminated rocking horse is constructed by cutting a series of plywood cross-sections of a rocking horse from the plans provided and then gluing them together to produce a rough approximation of a horse.  This form is then shaped by carving and sanding to produce the rocking horse, which is  then finished by adding a variety of accessories including a mane and a tail, a bridle and a saddle as well as  glass eyes etc.
I found the entire process of purchasing not only the plans but also a set of accessories and a DVD which describes the construction of a laminated rocking horse, extremely straightforward. I was particularly impressed with the personalised service that I received from the Rocking Horse Shop. After placing my order on their website  I received a telephone call from the manager who wanted to clarify an aspect of my order, five days later the order was delivered to my doorstep.
The horse that I have decided to make – a medium sized rocking horse – will require one sheet of 18mm plywood. I am off to Allboards in Bayswater to purchase this sheet tomorrow.....then like the man with a wheelbarrow, I have got the job in front of me.

Peter P. Oppenheim
July 2011
Peter promises he will send us a picture when his horse is finished.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Rocking Horse Carving Course - June 2011

Another great caving course at The Rocking Horse Shop, all the students where delighted with their Rocking Horse heads and we look forward to seeing their finished Rocking Horses.

If you would like to join us on one of our courses just click  here to see the dates of future courses.  We would love to see you.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Fangfest 3rd & 4th September 2011 - A Celebration of Traditional Crafts

Fangfest – Festival of  Pracatical Arts 2011
Fangfoss, York
3rd & 4th September 2011
9am to 4pm

This year is the 13th annual Festival of Practical Arts held in the village of Fangfoss.

This delightful east Yorkshire village puts on a fantastic show once a year. Jane Cook from The Rocking Horse Shop, says “ The whole aim of Fangfest if to promote traditional crafts. It's amazing how many local traditional crafts people we have and it is a real joy to see the makers demonstrating their craft.”

The Rocking Horse Shop opens it's doors and lets you see how Rocking Horses are made, including carving, painting and making tack. At Fangfoss Pottery they will show you how to make a teapot and you can even have a go at making a pot yourself.. They have a stone carver, chain saw carver, corn dolly maker, Artists and much more. The craft marquee holds 20 local stall holders many of them demonstrating their individual crafts.

We also incorporate a range of family fun, including vintage car rally, flower festival, fairground rides, and you can even have a go at clay shooting or archery. We have something for every one from the very young to the very old.” Says Jane

It's a great weekend, for more details go to