Chambers, Robert (b.1979)
Robert Chambers, owner of Millichamp and Hall, cricket bat makers, describes how a cricket bat is made.  The company was started in 1987 and run from a garage in Crewkerne. Now they are based at the county ground in Taunton. Robert took over the company when he was just twenty years old in 2000. He was the sole director and owner of the company when this recording was made in 2002.
Robert Chambers, cricket bat maker, 2002. Robert Chambers, cricket bat maker, 2002.
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Listen to Robert Chambers - 1.87MB Duration 4:04 min.

AH: And what is the first process?  Obviously there’s a lot of processes, aren’t there, that go through until you get a final beautiful, polished bat?

RC: Sure.


AH: Can you talk about that? 


RC: Yes, I can talk you through.  Basically, from the rectangular block of willow we have to fashion that down to a workable size, obviously, to reduce our preparation times, and so what we do is, we use a combination of machines to do this.  We start with a circular saw, which basically chops the ends off, which gives us the correct size for a cricket bat.  We do this as well to check for cones in the end of the wood, which are sort of cracks which, obviously, if you’ve got those, they can be fatal when you’re actually using your cricket bat. 


From then we have to plane the edges down.  Once again it’s four and a quarter inch wide the cricket bat has to be, so obviously we do that with a machine.


From that stage, we then back it.  We basically use the circular saws to make a triangular back to give us a guideline, because obviously, cricket bats have got a spine.  It’s then taken to the spindle moulder, which has basically got a specially-made face profiling blade, and that gives us the rounded face on the front.  Then, probably the most important process is the pressing.  We’ve got a hydraulic press.  We run these blades through four or five times up to pressures of two tons per square inch, which obviously gives us the spring.  If you press a bat too hard, you get something that lasts an awful long time but doesn’t perform.  Vice versa, if you press it too soft, it falls apart very quickly.  So that is very important and it takes a long time.


AH: Are the bats different sizes and heights, or different weights?


RC: They are different sizes.  Bats generally start at size three and then they go up to Harrow size – size three, four, five, and a Harrow.  That’s the youngsters’ sizes, Harrow being the twelve to thirteen year-olds blade, size three being a five to six-year olds blade.  Then it goes up to an adult size, and you get slightly different combinations.  You can have a short blade, a standard blade, a long blade.  You can have a standard handle, a super-short handle or a long handle, and combinations of all six, which makes life interesting.


AH: Yes, and what determines what size of handle you would have?  Is it something to do with your size, your weight?


RC: Generally your size, although there are exceptions.  There’s people who like... they may not necessarily be tall, but they like a long cricket bat.  Vice versa, maybe people who are taller actually like a short cricket bat, depending on their stance.  So we do get the odd strange request.  The most important thing is the weight.  Adults’ bats range from twopound five ounces up to four pound, four pound being extremely heavy.

Copyright Information
Copyright. This recording was made by Ann Heeley in January 2002. Photograph ©Ann Heeley Collection. For access to full interview please contact the Somerset Heritage Centre.