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Mardler Feb 2018

Local History He and his

Local History He and his late father had been running the smithy for 50 years since the early 20 th century, when Harold’s father took over the forge from Frank Stammers, who had run it with his wife Olive for many years in the late 19 th century. Stammers bought the forge from Jonathan Walker, named in the 1881 census, who came from a blacksmithing family in Redgrave. Before Walker, John Aldous, born in 1785 was the Brockdish blacksmith. He is mentioned in many of the earliest trade directories for Brockdish. He lived at the forge with his wife Lucy and their two daughters Rachel and Thirza. Illustration 2. Blacksmiths working in a late 19 th century smithy. In the early years of the century, Brockdish smithy was one of the most thriving blacksmiths businesses in the Waveney Valley area. Young Harold and his cousin had previously helped out his father and at one time over 150 horses and ponies in the district regularly attended the smithy to be shod. On busy days up to 13 horses had shoes fitted. 16

Local History Ponies belonging to local butchers, bakers and grocers needed shoeing every fortnight because they were on the roads practically every day delivering to houses in the area, whereas a horse ridden only occasionally would need new shoes perhaps once a year. Mr Reeves recalled that there had been 12 forges within a radius of 3 miles of Brockdish, two in each village at Weybread, Wingfield, Hoxne and Rushall, others being at Needham, Syleham, Thorpe Abbotts and Billingford, while at Harleston just over 3 miles away there were at least three more. A smithy was a hot and humid place. During working hours a very hot open fire was always burning with its large bed of redhot coals. The earliest blacksmiths burned charcoal to heat iron ore, using bellows to pump in air. When the furnace reached 1540 degrees C, the iron would be malleable enough to be shaped. When blacksmiths hammered and folded the hot iron, they were working in wrought iron. When they poured the molten iron into molds, they were working in cast iron. Until the eighteenth century, blacksmiths used charcoal as fuel but later coke became the fuel of choice because it burned hotter longer. There were two blowers at Brockdish Forge, coke fired in the 19 th century but one was electrically powered in the later 1950s, an expensive innovation. Illustration 3. Blacksmith’s tools 17

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