He's a typical Dorset countryman. You used to be able to see them every week at Dorchester market. Granfer's shape; but not quite so tall, Granfer's face; but not so rugged, and a bit of bailer twine around their waist if you could call it that. Over the backside and under the belly might be a better description. Alas, Dorchester market is no more from a countryman's point of view. You can buy jeans there now and double glazing units, but if you want a score of cattle, a couple of pigs and a hundred dozen eggs, then I'm afraid you'll be disappointed. I don't know what happened to the countrymen who used to go to market; it's not easy for someone built like Granfer just to fade away.
Granfer stands 14 feet 2 inches tall, his 'waist' measurement is 18 feet. When moving Granfer is about 14 feet 10 inches tall. His smock follows a basic pattern recorded many times in Dorset. His buttons are based on a traditional local design. The habit of shaving the moustache whilst retaining a full beard was not uncommon in the nineteenth century; I suppose a shepherd might be glad of a permanent 'scarf' when lambing coincided with an iron frost.
Granfer has a collapsible frame made of aluminium tubing braced with steel wires. His torso is shaped by an inflatable that, as a side effect, adds stiffness to his frame. Despite his weight of twelve and a half stone, he is carried by just one porter who straps himself into a lifting frame. The weight is carried on the porter's shoulders and the balance is controlled by very firm waist straps and a grab bar in front.
Due to his size Granfer has a severe problem with wind. Stop sniggering. He is very vulnerable to a sudden gust, and his frame is provided with 'bounce wheels'. These are small wheels that will roll if his frame tilts far enough to touch the ground, if his frame were allowed to dig in he would be very liable to trip over. When conditions are considered to be marginal he is provided with guys that can be used by a minder, so that the porter hasn't got to battle against the wind on his own.
Granfer was built in 1989, his first serious outing was to the Sidmouth International Folk Festival where he was accused of stealing elephants. Nothing was proved however, and he was invited back again the following year. Together with Lilbet Large, or later, Caroline Moore, he has represented Dorchester at Matadepera during the Run up to the Barcelona Olympics, at The World Student Games in Sheffield, and in many other places at home and abroad.
Design, metalwork, and bulk clothing Derek Moody, hands by Steve Brissenden, head and crook by Chris Preece, face, clothing details and buttons by Liz Hodder. All sorts of odd bits done by the member of the Dorchester Giants Group.
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Last modified: Sat, 12 Feb 2000