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the rocking horse stud

Chris Woolcock - The Master Craftsman

Chris has received worldwide acclaim for his hand carved wooden rocking horses with pieces on display from London to New York and carousel horses used as static displays in public places.

As a craftsman trained in the old style by his grandfather, Chris' rocking horses are a sound investment for the collector or heirloom gift from a loving parent or grandparent that may be passed down for generations.

In the Beginning, as a child with working parents, Chris was left from the age of 1 year, in the care of his grandfather, a merchant seaman who took to woodwork following his retirement after WWII. During their time together and until Chris was about nine years old, he would carve toys that belonged to another generation - boats with square bows and upright funnels. It wasn't long before he absorbed the skills which would one day prove to be his stock-on-trade.

Chris' parents guided him towards the security of an academic career and his studies in environmental science were eventually successful in 1971, but the dream lingered on of being his own man. In order to keep his hand in, Chris began making toys as an educational aid for handicapped children on a small commercial scale. As a young primary school teacher in NSW in the early 70's, he had a group of children who needed special graded equipment. Since very little was available he decided to make it himself. Some time later he then went to the UK and taught disadvantaged children in the East End.

Back in Tasmania, in December 1982 after his contract as a temporary teacher ran out and was not renewed, there was little prospect of another teaching job in the area, and there were no more excuses not to start his own business. When he started his business he was selling toys to schools and toy shops in Tasmania. Within nine months, Woolcock Toys was established in a former boat-building factory and Chris was employing a number of handicapped people. Woolcock toys were then marketed nationally through the David Jones Group.

the beginnings of The Vintage Toymakers

Many folk ask Chris how he became a wooden rocking horse carver and he tells the story like this.

Some time in the early 80's I was working away in my toy workshop one day in Launceston, TAS and a lady came in with a horse full of woodworm and rot asking if Chris could repair it.

Chris said he'd give it a go and as he stripped the paint off, it proceeded to disintegrate until he was left with only the legs and belly. He took patterns of the old pieces and proceeded to rebuild the horse.

When it was horse-like once more a chap happened into the workshop, saw what he was doing, and in great excitement exclaimed, "At last I've found a rocking horse maker! How much are they?" Not wishing to disappoint him, he said $560 and thereupon he gave him a $200 deposit and said, "I will be back in a fortnight to pick up a horse." Chris experimented with three horses before he was happy with the result and presented the completed wooden rocking horse to the beaming man two weeks later. The rest, as they say, is history...

As the Ross Village Toymaker...

This photo at right is the shot that Chris used as the background for his business card as the Ross Village Toymaker. The shot is taken in front of The Grange (circa 1830's), in Campbelltown, Tasmania, in 1992 and next door to Chris' toy factory.
During his time in Ross, Chris featured in many tourism catalogues and magazines as a tourist attraction in Tasmania and became so well known that people from all over the world and Australia made Ross a special stop in order to visit the Rocking Horse Maker. During this time he also did a morning local TV children's program on traditional toymaking and some National segments for ABC TV.

Chris Woolcock Cartoon

chris woolcock rocking horse
Chris's grandfather "Wilfie"
chris woolcock
Chris at 22
chris woolcock rocking horses
Woolcock Toys in the 80's

Chris Woolcock
Chris Before Meeting Viktoria

Chris Woolcock
Chris in front of The Grange Tas c. 1990's

Deferalization Begins...

Deferalization was a gradual and painful experience for Chris. When he returned to Sydney in 1997 after a 20 year stint in Ross, TAS, it was very necessary. It involved the gradual trimming of a 30cm beard to a 3cm beard and a 30cm ponytail to short back and sides; the colouring of a salt and pepper beard to "Dark Natural Brown" to match his hair; the purchase of a new Akubra hat and the purchase of modern day pull-on work boots.

Chris Woolcock
Modern Chris with Patricia Mullins
- Rocking Horse Expert

Sienna Woolcock
Sienna 8 months 2001 Naming Day
Email: | Phone: 0459284752| Address: 28 Evans Road, Wilberforce, NSW, 2756
Business Hours: Closed Monday / Open Tues - Sun 9-4 PM / Open by appointment from Jan 3, email enquiries to
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