The River Ouse
slowly winds its way through
North Bedfordshire in several large horse-shoe shaped loops providing miles of rush beds over a relatively small area.
Pavenham is positioned on one of these large river loops and was
placed to be the centre of the North Bedfordshire rush
industry from the mid C18 to the early C20.
Rush was harvested in June, July and August by gangs of men wading,
waist deep, into the river and cutting the rush with a long handled
bill hook. The men slept in tents along the river bank, hanging
their clothes out to dry over night ready to wear the next day.
Meanwhile the bundles or bolts of rush were transported to
Pavenham, either by river or cart, and spread out to dry.
During the ensuing year the rush was either plaited or woven
into baskets, mats, horse collars, hassocks etc and was also
used to upholster chairs or in the coopering trade.