Day 2

Day 2
Visiting master wheelwright Phill Gregson at Colonial Williamsburg

Day 2

Colonial Wheelwrighting day 1

Today is the day! Woke up super early (the jet lag I’m sure, definitely nothing to do with excitement), sun streaming through the curtains and the heat already starting to build, thank goodness for air conditioning. After another leisurely stroll through the historic town, I turned towards the Deane Shop (Colonial Williamsburg Wheelwright’s Shop) set back from the bustling town centre , down a side street off the lawn in front of the Governor’s Palace. It may be in a little quiet corner of the town but this establishment is by no means quiet in any sense of the word. It is a hub of noise and a delightful attraction for the public. Upon arrival I met the three full time wheelwrights, a Master (John Boag) and two Journeymen (Paul Josef Zelesnikar and Andrew de Lisle), and a volunteer called Alan who mixes most of the paints for the shop. It was encouraging and a delight to find like-minded individuals with whom I could discuss all manner of things wheelwrighting. The tour of the shop was enlightening and informative and it was good to finally meet these people and see the place in person after months of internet contact.

I was then whisked off to to the costume department and emerged, as a butterfly from a cocoon (or that’s how I imagine it), a dashing 18th century Master Wheelwright. The clothing is surprisingly comfortable and considering the hot environment, surprisingly cool and easy to work in.

Next, came a tour of the town, where John introduced me to several people that work in different trades within the foundation. It was inspirational to see such a mix of traditional skills in one place, cherished and nurtured. The atmosphere is one of passion and determination. Remember that these people are not actors, they may be in costume but the work they are doing is as every bit real as it ever was.

After a spot of lunch in the Merchant’s Quarter, the afternoon was filled with excitable conversation and a little bit of hard work. My first job on site was to adze the inside of a felloe (the outer wooden curved part of the wheel), and this required skills that I had long since forgotten. I like to think it didn’t take too long to get back into the swing of things but I am certainly not yet up to the same standard as the native Wheelwrights.

Master Wheelwright Phill Gregson, Paul and Andy at the Colonial Williamsburg Wheelwright's Shop, Virginia, USA
Master Wheelwright Phill Gregson, Paul and Andy at the Colonial Williamsburg Wheelwright’s Shop, Virginia, USA