I mooched over to Preston to take a look at the place that was selling that bench. Turns out they had four but, being in the pub furnishing trade, they decided the more knackered ones had more interest and were worth more. They were proven right when the hacked, warped and wobbly example was snapped up at full price by a fashion shop. This theory also allowed them to discount these two decent specimens to me. Huzzah! Both beech, both seven feet long, with different front vices. The tops are upside-down because the lighter one is a bit wormy; I whacked some spare paraffin over the undersides so that tomorrow I can set them up. There’s a ratty old drawer full of iron dogs and trestle wedges that seem to have a part to play.
The extra-good bit is that they have sheds-full of stuff, with a high ratio of good-to-tat including shelves of old tools at tempting prices. I picked up the left-handed sash fillister because it looked nice (boxwood bearing surfaces) and a spare forged billhook for guests. The label on the plane has clues to the way they do business. The official price is the two middle digits of the large number, 48, but I got it for £30; the date they obtained the item is coded in the small digits, 1986! It appears three siblings have inherited the business and have no idea what they have, they’re just getting rid of it all on eBay.
One day, hopefully soon, I’ll make a scrubbing plane out of one of my old beauties and tune the benches up. Until then, I have a handsome place to rest my tea (on a coaster, of course) and dream.