Heritage Crafts


The making of bits, bridles, spurs, stirrups and the minor metal items of a horse’s harness, together with the saddle tree.
Craft category
Area practiced currently
Origin in the UK
Walsall and London
Current No. of professionals (Main income)
21-50 29 people at Abbey England making a wide range of lorinery items 6 people (approx) at W Thacker making harness ornaments 6-10 companies making saddle trees
Current No. of professionals (Side income)
See above
Current No. of trainees
Not known
Current total No. of serious amateur makers


The nineteenth century was a time of expansion for manufacturing in Walsall . Britain’s expanding overseas empire as well as her involvement in the Napoleonic Wars led to a demand for all types of lorinery products made in the town.

In the twentieth century saw a decline of the lorinery trade There was a brief resurgence of fortunes during the First World War owing to the need to keep the cavalry and horse-drawn artillery well supplied. However, after that, many firms diversified or turned over to making metal parts for motorcar bodies.

The trade in Walsall, and indeed Great Britain as a whole, has declined dramatically since then. The explosion in the use of the horse for leisure purposes over the last thirty years or so has benefited the saddlery trade, but not the loriners.

However a few companies are still carrying on the tradition of producing high-quality lorinery items in Walsall, West Midlands.


  • Forging
  • Casting
  • Drop forging
  • Electro-plating

Historically, the name “loriner” only applied to those who hand forged their products. However, casting, drop forging and electro-plating processes have almost entirely taken over from hand forging and “loriner” has now come to mean anyone who is engaged in the production of saddlers’ ironmongery.


Lorinery includes a wide variety of ironmongery including bits, buckles, stirrups, snaffles etc.

Issues affecting the viability

  • Market issues: the decline in the use of horses for transport and working has led to decline in demand for lorinery
  • Competition from overseas markets: British firms cannot compete with the low production costs of countries like South Korea, India and China. The majority of saddlers’ ironmongery is now therefore imported. The one exception to this has been saddle tree manufacturing and here the British makers have seen a boom. There are currently ten companies in Walsall making saddle trees, compared to three in 1985.

Support organisations

Craftspeople currently known


  • Worshipful Company of Loriners: https://www.loriner.co.uk/lorinery/lorinery-history
National Lottery Heritage Fund
Swire Charitable Trust
The Royal Mint
Pilgrim Trust
Maxwell/Hanrahan Foundation
William Grant Foundation

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