First World War Shell Former
People in Castle Donington have demonstrated the skill of basket making throughout history, from the exquisitely worked Bronze Age eel trap found in gravel workings, through to the present day.
In the 17th century, osier beds along the banks of the River Trent were renewed for the benefit of the town.
By the mid 19th century, the village had become a basket making centre, with families moving into the area to find work.
During the First World War the industry received a major boost when a War Office contract was obtained to make willow baskets in which artillery shells were transported to the front line. Most of the baskets perished long ago but two sizes of wooden formers survive, along with photographs of the many basket makers and the "outwork" of attaching leather straps.
An enamel lapel badge and war office notice of employment on essential war work which were issued to each basket worker also survive. These were essential and were carried by each worker as a safeguard against challenges of cowardice.
Castle Donington Museum
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Page Last Updated: 13 May 2013