Just in Time to see closing days of a Smithy

Blacksmiths' shops have always had a fascination for me so I could not resist the temptation to pop into the smithy at Shelfanger and 'pass the time of day with Mr. Charlie Rolingson. But it was not such a. pleasant occasion. "I am turning It in at the end of the week," said wiry Charlie. "I just cannot get a living these days so the only thing is to shut up shop." And he should know what's what because he has been shaping horseshoes for the past 50 years or so. A Londoner, he came up to Norfolk In 1913 and served his apprenticeship at the smith at the Ship Inn, Diss. "I worked from six in the morning to six, at night in those days and earned half a crown a week. I remember one day I was ten minutes late and at the end of the week I only drew 2s 5½d". He joined the army in 1917 as a farrier in the Royal Artillery-and went out to Russia, 'A lot of the horses never wore shoes out there:' he told me. "In fact I cannot ever remember shoeing one. I do remember though it was always hot in the summer and freezing cold in the winter" he added. Seven-day week Coming out of the army he went over to Billy Dye at Roydon. There he worked seven days a week shoeing all the time. "There were the horses of the military at Roydon as well as cart horses and riding horses," he mused. In fact just about everything was horse-drawn. now, 65-year-old Charlie, whose grandfather was a jockey and whose father joined a circus to be near horses, hardly sees a horse. For the past few years he has been making and repairing agricultural implements. "At the moment I am making a couple of fire baskets and I have an order for a wrought-iron gate. When they are done I don't know what I shall do next. All I want is enough to keep myself busy and help pay the rent of this smithy, but it is impossible these days so I am closing down." His two sons are lorry drivers. At one time he wanted them to take up the trade but they declined. I am glad now that they did because there Is certainly no future in it" he said sadly. ©1964 Bill Coller, Local Paper