Whatever the weather, a fire brings life and light to a house. Tessa Waugh meets two craftsmen making bellows by hand to breathe life into the flames
Afire exerts a pull that’s irresistible to humans and animals alike. Next time you draw near to the flames, give a thought to the humble accessories arranged to hand: gloves, pokers, matches and tongs might be visible, but it’s the bellows—all too often overlooked—that deserve our attention. Our ancient ancestors quickly caught on to the fact that a well-directed jet of air could do wonders for a dying fire and we’ve been using them ever since.
The basic design is unchanged: bellows are essentially a mechanical device that expands to take in air and constricts to expel it at speed, but the best ones are decorative as well as functional. The practice of making them by hand, with the traditional materials of hard wood and cowhide, has dwindled, but there are still two companies doing so in the UK and they’re both based in Scotland.
rupert and Yda Morgan of Morgan Bellows were Dumfriesshire farmers seeking another income when they started mending bellows for people in 1981. ‘My husband was a pyro-maniac,’ says Yda, ‘we had to have fires in every room. We never had enough bellows and were always patching up what we had.’
Morgan Bellows now produces nine different designs, which it sells via www.morganbellows.co.uk. it also offers a bespoke service, adorning