A rocking horse pioneers legacy will live on in the hundreds of wooden rides she created in her lifetime, the women she taught and her many friends and family who always admired her woodcarving skills. Margaret Spencer recently passed away at the age of 88 years following a long battle with vascular dementia, brought on by a major stroke and series of lesser ones.
In 1967, Margaret followed in her father’s footsteps, developing a woodcarving hobby into a business which spanned 30 years and gained her respect among the male dominated world of traditional wooden rocking horse making. As a true pioneer, breaking the ceiling for women woodcarvers, Margaret endured derogatory comments during the 1970’s when demonstrating her skills at shows where people often asked where her husband was and some customers refused to complete their order when they realised that Margaret had done the woodcarving.
The Somerset guild of crafters would not accept Margaret’s application because of her gender and she became a member of the Dorset Craft Guild. Margaret had many interviews by the national press, TV and radio, who reported that it was ‘so surprising’ or ‘amazing’ that a woman was doing such a thing. Margaret’s love of woodcarving began when her father gave her a horse head to carve and she chipped away at it on her back step of the family home in North Street.
Margaret’s husband Ron was fully supportive and proud of his wife’s achievement, the couples small conservatory became a workshop. This was later extended and at its height managed to cram three people in among the wooden parts which were ready to be cut, carved or painted to create the Victorian style rides. On her father’s retirement, Margaret took over his mail order rocking horse parts business, building it into an internationally recognised name, together with daughter Marion. With 500 rocking horses and two ‘How To’ books to her name Margaret had truly made her mark on the woodcarving industry.
The married mother of three, a true feminist, also took naturally to being a Girl Guide leader and eventually became District Commissioner. Daughter Marion Spencer said: “Mums steady, practical nature encouraged a generation of young women to become more confident and she was never happier than when communicating with teenagers and getting to grips with campfire gadget building at camp.” Margaret Spencer touched the lives of many and will be greatly missed by family, friends and all who knew her. Margaret’s funeral service is on Wednesday September 12th at 2 pm at Yeovil Crematorium. The family have requested no ties, no black clothing and family flowers only. Donations are invited for The MS Society c/o Stoodley & Son, The Park, George Shopping Centre, Crewkerne.