Behind the walls of some of our CHEQS residences, people are busy running small businesses.
This month we put the
SPOTLIGHT ON… …Charlie Collett, The Grumpy Blacksmith
Once upon a time, every village had a blacksmith.
They would shoe horses, of course, but they would also
repair almost anything – the idea of replacing something just because it is broken is one of those silly, modern ideas!
Then the car came along and changed everything for the blacksmith. Some turned their skill with metal to repairing cars and selling fuel, some used this new found mobility to enlarge their sphere of work. Some shut up shop and worked for others.
In Quenington, some of my ancestors fulfilled the role of blacksmith. They resisted progress as long as possible, but my grandfather finally gave up around 1961. My mother shod the last horse here, and the forge became just another cold, dusty shed.
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 junk – it took two years of spare time to empty it!
Then we found the forge itself, the anvil and quench tank, and 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 1970s the chimney had fallen off in the storms, and it was capped off. Getting a new chimney installed took a little while and a lot of money! 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 metal 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!
Find out more here: http://www.thegrumpyblacksmith.co.uk/
Margaret Stranks – Editor