Breath­ing fire

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

Country Life Every Week - - In The Driving Seat -

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.mor­gan­bel­ it also of­fers a be­spoke ser­vice, adorn­ing

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