Peter Marden
Sussex Trug Maker

You may be wondering what on earth a trug is... Some sort of mythical figure from The Hobbit perhaps, or a rural bandit? In fact a trug is a traditional sort of basket, and is still made by a small number of craftsmen as we discovered on visiting the Weald WoodFair. [Write-ups of the WoodFair can be seen on the 'Events' page].

Pete Marden's Sussex Trugs Sussex trugs were originally used on the farm as measures for grain, feed or even liquid - if the user was quick. They range in size from one pint to one bushel [wildly inaccurate by today's standards] and are made in a variety of shapes, making them ideal for many things in the home and garden; everything from harvesting garden produce or gathering and displaying flowers, to storing fruit or eggs.

The trug has been made in Sussex for at least 200 years becoming renowned for its strength and durability. The craft is still alive today and Peter Marden's trugs are handmade in the traditional way using the same tools, methods and materials. In an age of mass produced plastic carrier bags it is hard to imagine how much effort goes into creating something that does the same job as a carrier bag - well relatively speaking - but is made from natural resources. In fact Peter sources his willow as offcuts from a cricket bat maker.

Trug rim and handles The handle and rim are cleaved from coppiced sweet chestnut, using a cleaving axe or froe, then held in a shaving horse and smoothed with a drawknife before being bent around a former.
Shaving Horse Next, the boards are prepared from cricket-bat willow, again using the drawknife and shaving horse.

The boards, which are about 4 to 5mm thick, are then soaked in water to make them pliable before being inserted into the frame and nailed or riveted in place.

Drawknife removing slivers
Slivers of willow removed...
Soaking the willow
...then a good soaking...
Willow pliability make the willow pliable.
Centre board
The centre board is first...
Additional trug boards
...then others added...
Overlapping boards
...each one overlapping.
Nailing to frame
Boards are fixed to the frame...
Pinning to feet
and also pinned to the 'feet'.
Finished Sussex trugs
Trugs awaiting new owners
...and voila, you have a Sussex trug...
or two, or three, or....
Peter Marden - Master Craftsman
Peter Marden at work.
Of course we're much in awe of master craftsmen like Peter, but if you would like to find out more about trugs, or buy a trug for yourself or as an unusual present, Peter can be reached by phone at
+44 (0)1323 846658 or visit his website:

Copyright © 2002.