Sunday, 8 December 2013

The Pimp Maker and Spile makers of Bromley Common

Bromley Common had a very few houses in the 1801 census which I transcribed earlier this year. John Dunkin,an author, wrote of only 25 houses on the Common and it's borders in 1815. However the transcripts of Bromley Common Holy Trinity which I have completed reflect the rapid growth in population after 1843. All Bromley Transcript material is available on a single page Bromley Kent Online Parish Clerks transcripts .
So we have a population occupying the Common land who are often travellers or inhabiting the wooded borders of the Common land as at Skim or Skym Corner; a hamlet since mediaeval times.
Our Pimp Maker is John Whitehead , whose son John is entered at Baptismal Register number 237 on 22 May 1853 and lives at Bromley Common. The large group of Whiteheads on the Common and particularly at Skym Corner are descendants of the Chelsfield Whiteheads.
The Pimp maker or Spile Maker is also found in some census entries as a Bavin maker. In wooded areas, particularly on Commons, the collection of firewood bundles often called spiles or bavins could provide a lucrative income when sold to householders or inns in the town.
In the 1873 marriage of William Johnson and his bride Louisa Bowers the groom's occupation is recorded as a Shine and Spile Maker.
The wooded areas of the common supported rural crafts as many traveller families made a range of wooden items and other occupations include basket making.
The Common was home for part of the year at least to many Romany and traveller families. Bromley Racecourse also attracted other local families who travelled with fairgound rides and are connected with other traveller families in Kent and Surrey.