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Wessex Film and Sound Archive

Lew Smith, bowyer

Lew Smith was one of a small number of professional longbow makers in the country, using changing technology to hand craft the modern composite bow used in archery today.

His workshop - formerly the village wheelwright's - was in Sopley in the New Forest and his one man business went under the name of Lailham Bows. He started out as an engineer but his hobby of bow-making became too compelling to resist and he got a job with a firm, before branching out on his own and catering for the expanding sport and leisure market.

Listen to the recording

John Norwood
How many types of bow are you turning out?'

Lew Smith
Well, there's one basic type, which is a composite longbow - far different from the old longbow, of course. We use modern materials and, although it's fundamentally the same, we get different designs of limbs. It's the limbs that do the work.


Listen to the recording

John Norwood
How many types of bow do you make?

Lew Smith:
've got a range of five now, with the latest out, which is a take-apart effort beneficial for the archer as well as the bowyer, inasmuch that if the normal wooden bow goes up the creek, well that's it, but with the take-apart, new limbs can be fitted onto a handle.




  • WFSA tape ref AV6/M126
  • Hampshire Museums Service reference CT1975.112
  • Hampshire Photographic Project reference TD695-22

Lew Smith, bowyer
Lew Smith finishing a bow at his workshop in Sopley, 14 August 1974

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