A unique piece of industrial heritage at Sticklepath the amazing FINCH FOUNDRY The hearth is lit, ready for bringing iron bars up to working heat. Tools - most made for working the land and mining 82 It's an understatement to say Finch Foundry is unique as it's one of only two surviving water powered forges in England. Once, it was one of the largest edge tool manufactories in the South West. Who’d ever have thought an industrial gem such as Finch Foundry could be found in deepest rural Devonshire. It goes to prove what I say - there are surprises around every corner in our beautiful county. A leisurely drive along the northern foothills of Dartmoor to Sticklepath couldn’t be described as anything other than delightful, and finally arriving at Finch Foundry, your interest is piqued immediately by the unusual facade and narrow passageway through to the back. Thankfully that great institution, the National Trust, rescued this important piece of industrial and social heritage for posterity in 1994. It’s fair to say that many people probably veer more towards NTs country houses, failing to register just how important and unique Finch Foundry truly is. The Foundry had been in operation by the Finch family from the late 1700s until 1960, when the business failed - the Finch family abandoning the site. The roof subsequently collapsed and it appears that the machinery (much dating back to the 1800s) remained in tact, with the site being left redundant for many years until the National Trust finally stepped in. the Finch family were in charge of up to 25 men who were wheelwrights, carpenters, farriers and of course, blacksmiths What you get when you step into the forge is a unique glimpse into a 19th century manufacturing facility. The equipment is primitive, but being heavily over-engineered and effective meant that it was The entrance to the forge Countryside, History, Walks, the Arts, Events & all things Devon at: DEVONSHIRE magazine.co.uk in use for a very long time, probably with occasional repairs, but otherwise it all did the job asked of it and has survived the test of time. In terms of the workforce, the Finch family were in charge of up to 25 men who were wheelwrights, carpenters, farriers and of course, blacksmiths, both manufacturing and repairing implements for land workers and miners (don't forget, Dartmoor at one time had very many mines across it, evidence of which are all over the moors). The displays and artefacts on display are excellent and really give a full picture of life at Finch Foundry. It's said that with the large forge hammer in operation, it could be heard 3 miles away, so you can imagine how the Foundry would have dominated this village and local area. On your visit, if you have a large car, be careful driving through the passageway to the rear car park, it's very narrow. Round the back it's lovely, there are tables where you can enjoy tea or a light lunch, and there's even a path leading directly down the river Taw - great if you need to walk the dog.
The honing shop - where newly made tools would be sharpened, also tools brought in for re-sharpening. The top of the water delivery shute, which is then fed into an overshot wheel in order to gain maximum energy from the water flow. Above - large diameter wheels with leather drive belts transfer power into the forge workshop Workers at Finch Foundr: 1. W. Westaway, Blacksmith, 2. Jack Powlesland, Carpenter, 3. Christy Osborne, Apprentice, 4. John Mallett, Hammer Man, 5. Albany George Finch, Owner, 6. Joe Hellier, Blacksmith, 7. Mr Gee, Labourer, 8. Aubrey Tucker, Wheelwright, 9, Alf Hooper, Carpenter, 10. Laurence Taylor, Farrier. Image from the NT Archive. Above - delightful gardens where you can enjoy tea and cakes - there's also a path down to the stream where you can walk your dog. hubcast .co.u k Left - power from the water wheel drives a multitude of devices via a shaft directly through the wall - the ultimate green energy. 83