Charlie Tyler of Korokoro (in the hills above the Hutt Valley, near Wellington) made his first wheel in December 1964 for his niece, according to a newspaper article (paper and date unknown, possibly early 70s). With much advice and encouragement from Miss Aileen Stace of Eastbourne, his work improved, and later some of his wheels were exported to Australia and the United States.
When that article was written, he had made 310 wheels. He had eight basic designs but no two wheels were ever exactly the same, and he used many types of timber, both native and imported. Each wheel was given a different woman’s name; by the time he reached 310 he was running out of names. By the end of his life he had made over 600.
All his wheels were signed, dated and named underneath by hand, though this is by now often very faint and hard to see. If part of “Korokoro” can be made out, that is enough to identify a Tyler. The wheel in the picture above, Vida, is a norwegian-style with a rectangular upper table, unlike Ariana. Two of his large saxony wheels, Jeannie and Linda, are also pictured in this site, as well as a tiny one. He also made small upright wheels.
His wife Esther was a keen weaver and spinner, and it is said that their home in Korokoro was furnished with items made Mr Tyler and all the upholstery and curtains were woven by her. Mrs Tyler was also the first editor of The Web, the original magazine of the New Zealand Spinning Weaving and Woolcrafts Society. Mr Tyler died in 1989.
One woman, spinning on one of Mr Tyler’s wheels with a very large flywheel and smooth treadling action, was actually seen to nod off to sleep in mid-treadle! (Is that the original meaning of “falling asleep at the wheel”?)