A leather craftsman is ‘reviving one of the great English crafts’ by stitching leather rugby balls in the home of the game.
Peter Prince, a former shoemaker, can be seen hand-stitching balls at the Webb Ellis Museum in St Matthew’s Street on Wednesdays and Fridays.
The 48-year-old has joined the Webb Ellis team during the World Cup year and hopes to encourage people to explore the town and its heritage.
“I started off as a shoemaker, like Gilbert the rugby ball maker did,” Peter said.
“He was a shoemaker at Rugby School and progressed to ball making, so it seems we have taken similar paths.”
Peter said it was a dream come to true to be working in the home of rugby.
“I’m all for reviving crafts as I think a lot of the great English crafts have been lost over the years and may not be resurrected, so it’s fantastic to be here hand-stitching rugby balls in the home of the game and keeping this craft going.
“This is my first time working with rugby balls and it takes me a day to make a full-sized ball at the moment.”
The balls start as four panels which are stitched together inside out using a waxed linen thread.
They are then turned through so all the seams are on the inside. They are then laced and the bladder is placed inside which is inflated.
Visitors can purchase full-sized and miniature balls from the museum.
Lawrence Webb, managing director of Webb Ellis Ltd, said the 2015 World Cup was an excellent opportunity for the town.
“I hope people get a good feel of the town and they leave knowing a bit more about ball making and a bit more about the home of the game,” he said.
“It’s always been on our radar to have someone stitching balls in the home of the game in the old traditional way and Peter fitted the bill for the job.”
The museum plans to expand over the next three years.
Lawrence said: “We’re launching a Barbarians Room which will be hugely exciting for fans of the game and very interesting for those with a passing interest in the sport. They’ll be shirts, programmes, photos and all sorts of things in the new section.”
Peter can be seen stitching between 10am and 4pm on Wednesdays and Fridays.
The museum is free to enter and is accessed through the Webb Ellis shop.