Ornamental whip has a sting
Maike van der Heide looks back at Marlborough's history through the stories of some of the treasures at Renwick Museum and Library.
To the untrained eye, the 1884 stock whip at Renwick Museum may seem an ordinary object, but a closer look reveals the outdated farm tool to be a display of talent, craftsmanship and hard work.
Hours and hours of graft were put into making this plaited rawhide whip, and many others like it, by upper Wairau Valley brothers George and Harry Eves, of Manuka Island.
When time allowed between farm chores, the pair would craft whips to sell in town, but doing so was quite a process.
Starting with a good bullock hide, George and Harry had to stretch it out on the woolshed floor and treat it with salt, trim the hair from the hide, then cut it in such a way as to make a continuous strip of leather.
From there, the strip was plaited, tapering in thickness as it grew longer, until it reached about 3.5 metres in length.
However, the whip pictured here on display at the Renwick Museum and Library, is an impressive 8.5m long and made from a whole bullock hide.
Designed as an ornamental whip and a challenge to its makers, it was said only George knew how to crack it.
However, just a few years ago Ian Lyall managed to demonstrate its whip in High St for the public.
The handle, like all the Eves' whips, was crafted from rata by George and Harry's father Charlie and was carefully weighted with lead to give the correct balance.
The brothers also plaited bridles, belts and other items.
Renwick Museum and Library, High St, open Mondays 10am to 3pm.
The Marlborough Express