… including a Peaky Blinders connection.

Daniel Jones has been named ETN/SMS Bench Saddler of the Month for October. 

The award, presented in conjunction with the Society of Master Saddler (SMS), recognises those who uphold the highest standard of leathercraft skills.

Daniel Jones flocks a saddle on the Albion tradestand. He loves showing the public what’s involved with making a saddle. 

About Daniel Jones

Daniel has worked at Albion Saddlemakers for nine years. 

He started his career with another Walsall manufacturer, Barnsby, doing preparation work but was only there for six months before the company closed.  

Daniel then moved to Fairfax Saddles for two years where he added to his skills by learning how to make girths and bridles. 

When he heard about a trainee saddler vacancy at Albion, Daniel applied, got the job and has been with the company ever since. 

“Walsall is renowned for leatherwork and saddlery, and being from the Black Country myself, I became interested in the trade,” he explains. 

“The job is very hands-on and I find the whole process of making a saddle really rewarding.”

Peaky Blinders inspired saddle

Daniel was placed second in the open saddle class at this year’s SMS National Competition in February. 

The Peaky Blinders theme is a nod to this saddler’s Black Country roots. 

The dressage saddle he made and entered incorporated 1920s tweed material courtesy of Duncan James Menswear in Walsall. “I took the trousers and waistcoat material and used them on the saddle,” says Daniel.

His inspiration for the design came from a favourite TV show - the BBC period drama Peaky Blinders - and as a nod to his Black Country roots. 

A touch of tweed: Daniel Jones’s prize-winning saddle.

The saddle – which colleagues urged Daniel to enter when they saw how well-made it was - is now on display in the Albion showroom and a popular attraction for visitors. 

“I think it was the uniqueness of the saddle that was really appealing,” says Daniel. “The blue of the tweed and the leather work really well together.

“It was the first time Albion had entered the National Competition. All four of us who entered were placed in the top three in their classes – it was a great result.” 

Working with an Olympian

Daniel admits to knowing little about horses but is keen to learn more. He’s recently had the opportunity to work with some of Albion’s sponsored riders including Olympian eventer William Fox-Pitt.

Saddlers’ Company Prime Warden Lucy Atherton presents Daniel Jones with his award at the SMS National Competition.

“I’ve been to Badminton Horse Trials for the last two years and been lucky enough to go behind the scenes and visit the stables, checking the saddles of our sponsored riders so they are all ready for the competition,” he said.

The experience sparked an interest in Daniel to learn more and progress his career in the saddlery world. He says he may train to be a saddle fitter, which would mean time out in the field away from the saddler’s bench. 

Daniel has also been one of two working saddlers to appear on the Albion tradestand at various shows and events – and says he enjoys   showcasing his craft to the public, answering questions and educating others. 

The next generation

When he’s not working, Daniel’s spare time is spent with his two boys, seven-year-old Finley and Bodhi (2). 

Asked if his sons are likely to follow in his professional footsteps, he says: “Finley loves coming with me to the Albion factory, he finds it fascinating. 

“If, in the future, he wants to work in the industry, I’ll be 100% behind him. But if he wants to do something else, that’s fine with me too.”

How to nominate a bench saddler:

Everyone is invited to nominate bench saddlers they feel deserve to be named ETN Bench Saddler of the Month. Candidates for the award must be a member of the SMS and based in the UK or overseas.

To nominate a bench saddler (or more than one),  email and tell us why this person deserves to be put in the spotlight. Please include the bench saddler’s name and business name too.