This film is part of Free

Travelling Tinker

Danny Morling grinds to a halt.

News 1962 3 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for South West Film and Television Archive


Danny Morling is grinding a knife at Frankfort Gate in Plymouth; he is one of the last travelling tinkers. Danny started when he was ten and is now in his 50s. A reporter talks to him before he parks his father's 100-year old barrow for good. Since a young age he has travelled up and down the country with his barrow. He grinds knives, scissors, garden shears, ground and set lawnmowers as well as fixes cane and rush chairs and repairs doormats and carpets.

“I think more of this barrow than I do The Bank of England!” He is returning to retire in Portsmouth after one last journey to John O’Groats. The term tinker from tinsmith or tinsmithing was originally assigned to those working with tin who mended pots and pans. It transferred to travellers who earned their way going from town to town and mending as they went. The term has in some instances come to be used pejoratively against the itinerant Roma or Irish communities. Many countries still have cultures where nomadic lifestyles are tolerated. Tinker is also used to describe naughty children! A tinker’s dam or damn and a tinker’s curse or cuss are also regular expressions meaning not to care about something.