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18 June 2014
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Legacies - Hereford and Worcester

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Immigration and Emigration
Travellers on the road
© Herefordshire Heritage Services
Travellers through time

There are a number of culturally distinct groups amongst the traveller population in Britain: English, Welsh and Scottish Gypsies, Irish Travellers, and New Travellers. In Herefordshire, the Council have identified four main groups:

• Romany – who have been in the area for a long time, but have now mainly settled in one place

• Irish travellers – who still travel, often extensively

• New travellers – these are not a traditional group, but mostly people from the settled community who have chosen a more itinerant way of life instead

• Barrel-Top travellers – the wagons in use today mainly belong to new travellers, not Romanies. They can be seen all year round in Herefordshire, though not in vast numbers

Gypsies and travellers have customarily been self-employed.
The Caravan or Vardo - traditional transport
Not only a mode of transport - it's home too
© Photographer unknown, from a collection held at the University of Liverpool Library
They are “economic nomads” and have always moved from place to place to find work opportunities, originally on foot, and then from the 19th Century in wagons. In the past they practised crafts like pot-mending, basket-making and peg-making, and others which utilised things from the natural environment. Many also dealt horses, particularly at the big fairs, which took place at places like Stow.

Traditionally, however, one of the biggest areas of employment for travellers and gypsies has been agriculture, and this was certainly the case in Herefordshire, renowned for its hops. Travellers provided much-needed seasonal labour in Herefordshire’s fields, picking and tieing the hops at various times of the year, and helping with other harvests too. Local farmers depended on this flexible labour force, without which the harvests could not have been taken in.

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