Once Upon A Time…

Once upon a time, every village had a blacksmith.

They would, as you would expect, shoe horses, but they would also repair almost anything. The idea of replacing something just because it is broken is one of those modern silly ideas.

Some of these repairs would be invisible, some better than new, and some done in a quick and cheap manner that doesn’t bear close examination.

Then the car came along and this changed everything for the blacksmith.

Some turned their skill with metal to repairing cars and selling them fuel, some used this new found mobility to work away from their reputation and some to enlarge it.

Some shut up shop and worked for others. This would have been something of a trial.

In this village my family supplied the blacksmith. We resisted progress as long as possible and my grandfather finally gave up around 1961. My Mother shod the last horse here, and the forge became just another cold shed.

A blacksmith's forge with an unimaginable amount of crap in it
A slightly more imaginable amount of crap

Showing a distinct lack of imagination it took me until 2010 to think about clearing out the forge and seeing what was left. It was rammed to the rafters with an unimaginable amount of junk.

It took two years’ worth of spare time to empty it. Once emptied, we found the forge itself, the anvil and quench tank, a set of bellows that still worked…

Well there was only one thing to do: light the fire.

Except we couldn’t, because back in the 70s the chimney had fallen off in the storms, and it was capped off. Arranging a new cut-stone chimney and some frankly terrifying scaffolding took a little while and a lot of money. Still, the house doesn’t look lopsided now.

Now, I’d never set foot in a proper blacksmith shop… but we had some steel about the place and it was a wet day, so why not have a go?

I spent five hours in the forge, mangling and burning bits of steel, and myself knowing the shape I was after, but having no idea how to get this straight piece of 6mm bar to behave…

By the time I gave up, I had ruined about 30 feet of steel, I was burnt, bruised and exhausted, but I had learnt more than I have ever learnt before in a single day.

Oh, and I had five simple hooks, and I was well and truly hooked.

I can make you some hooks, if you’d like. Or almost anything else, in fact. You can get in touch with me here.

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