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Albert's Last Skep

For the very last time Albert, at 73, makes the work of weaving the large willow bobbin baskets, skeps, look easy, having devoted his entire working life to perfecting his art.

Documentary 1978 28 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for Yorkshire Film Archive


This is a film made by one veteran Yorkshireman of another veteran Yorkshireman, both displaying a craft that in the 1970s is on the point of disappearing. Shipley amateur cine filmmaker Eric Hall captures Albert Gaff, also of Shipley, demonstrating his remarkable skills of weaving willow skeps, honed from the age of 12, for the West Yorkshire textile industry. Anyone wishing to take up again this ancient craft will find everything they need to know here.

Eric Hall, just a year younger than Albert, made a point of lovingly documenting craft skills, and cultural pastimes, which were dying out. Eric’s own films were themselves well crafted, having been making films since 1929, and being at one time Chairman of the North East Region of the Institute of Amateur Cinematographers and President of Bradford Cine Circle. All that is known of Albert Gaff is given in the film. Skeps were used in a number of ways in Yorkshire woollen mills, and could hold up to 500 bobbins. Although not used in this way now, framed wicker baskets are still in use in other industries, especially in Scotland. The Bradford firm of Fred Ambler featured in the film is still producing worsted cloth.