My great-grandmother was Eliza Webber, one of the last to leave the island of Samson in 1855. She was two years old and was relocated to St. Mary’s, where later she married my great-grandfather Benjamin Ashford. From their 12 children, few Ashford’s remain. I have two brothers and a sister all raised here in Scilly and all four of us stayed to raise families. I work with my sister at Ratbags Canvas shop. My husband Keith started his sail making business on Rat island in 1976 making & repairing sails and boat covers. Ratbags is very much a family affair – we make and sell canvas bags, clothing and hats. One of Keith's early commissions was a stripy canopy for a beach café on St. Mary’s, which needed large porthole windows. The offcuts became the first bags. Jean, Keith's sister had recently returned from the USA onboard a sailing boat from a season working in a Sail loft in Newport Road Island, bringing back great ideas for canvas products.
Proud to carry on a traditional island industry.