J&FJ Baker Tannery is the last oak bark tannery in Britain, tanning and producing some of the world best leather. The Baker family have been tanning leather at their premises in Devon for well over 150 years, on a historic site that has been a tannery since Roman times. Traditional techniques have been passed down from one generation to the next, and the techniques used at the tannery today are the same as when the Baker family bought it in 1862 - a method making the hides extremely strong and hard-wearing.
Tanning leather using oak is a long and demanding process, aiming to protect and maintain the natural structure of the leather.
The hides that are used are soured from local cattle farmers. They arrive at the tannery hair on, salted for preservation. The tanning process that follows takes up to 14 months, turning the raw hides into leather. In this process, the hides are de-haired, cut into sections and then placed in tanning pits containing a concentrated solution of oak bark and spring water. Each hide is exposed to this natural and sustainable solution throughout the 14-month period. Having little to no effect on the environment, the fluid is pumped back into the river when the tanning process is done, and the hides are then stained by hand and cured with oils and grease, enhancing the texture. The leather used in Kingsley Walters bags therefore have natural scarring, stretch marks and other characteristics.