J.& F. J. Baker & Co. at Colyton in Devon is one of the very few traditional oak bark tanners and curriers remaining in Britain. The attractive site beside the river Coly has been a tannery since Roman times and the process has not changed much since then.
The lime used to loosen hair is removed by soaking in river water. The hides are then hung in weak tanning solution in 'handler pits', where they are constantly agitated by a wonderful old mechanism of reciprocating wooden arms driven from beams and shafts in the roof, powered by a waterwheel. The waterwheel also drives a grinder which strips bark from oak branches.