The Blacksmith

The blacksmith and the carpenter both played an important part in keeping the work of the farms running smoothly, while also providing essential services for other villagers. Mr. Roper can remember four blacksmiths - William Coleman, the brother of Mrs. Clark who kept the village shop, Mr. Hurrell, who lived at the Crown, Mr. Palmer who occupied the house where Jimmy Dye had once lived, and Mr. Rollinson, who lived close to the blacksmith's shop, which adjoined what is now the Cross Keys garage. Mr. Roper gives a vivid account of the work that went on there. If you wanted any tools or anything mended, you just carried them across the road to the blacksmith's. If you wanted a hook sharpened or a hole made, you got it done there. You just carried things across and left them there one night, and they were done for you next day. Mr. Rollingson, when he was there, used to mend the harrows and point them up afresh when they were worn.

The heavy harrows, known as duck-foots, used to be half-a-crown a tooth, and there were two to a set. Years ago they had to have three horses on them; then the tractors came in, and they used to drag them behind a tractor. There weren't these hydraulic implements like there are now, so they used to have to load them up on to a trolley or something to take them to the next field. We used to go and watch them shoeing the horses. On a wet day there would be four or five of them tied up outside the blacksmith's shop, perhaps.

There used to be a whole string of them waiting to be shod; you see when they couldn't do anything on the farm they used to send them to the blacksmith with the horses to be shod. You'd have to wait an hour or two sometimes then, and there'd be quite a few takes put around while they were all waiting there. "Then about once or twice a year they used to shoe the wheels - put the iron tyres on the cartwheels. The carpenter used to do the woodwork, you see, if you wanted a new wheel or a new spoke put in, or anything like that; and then they used to run them across the road, and they used to have a big fire on the green there, and heat the iron tyres and then shoe them - shoe the wheels. There was a big circular iron on the side there, and they used to lay the wheels on that, and hammer the iron tyres on while they were hot. They used to have a big fire in the street where there was a sort of low place, where they used to put the irons in, and then wood faggots and that like on top. They'd get them well hot, and then they used to lift them out with tongs and hammer them on".

"I know when we were boys, the rector here, the Rev. George Paton had a brother who was a schoolmaster in London, and he used to like to come up here for his holidays and help the blacksmith. He'd have a day with the blacksmith and help shoe the tyres sometimes. He'd be stripped down to his waist you know, sweating. He'd be there all day long. Walter Paton, his name was. There'd be two or three of them to keep the fire going. Then they'd have a long pair of tongs to hook on the hot tyre, and two or three people to carry it over to the rim, and then they all used to hammer away, and the one with the watering can would keep pouring the water on, because the wood used to smoke. They used to hammer them on tight and then nail them on". ©1984 members of Shelfanger WI