A traditional village forge in the heart of Rural Lincolnshire.
The earliest recorded evidence of the forge's existence comes from a pencil sketch drawn by a 'C Nattes' in 1795, commissioned by the Duke of St Albans (for whose estate the forge was originally built). Rumour has it that the artist was commissioned to come up from London and see a number of buildings built for the Duke so that he could draw them for him; he then went back to his studio in London to draw the buildings. This might help explain why, perhaps, the forge is not instantly recognisable as it stands today - I think a fair amount of artistic license was used when recreating the forge from memory! Yet, the colonnades and rearing white horse (as well as the title of the drawing "Blacksmith shop at Redbourne") confirm that it is the building that still stands today.
The forge is probably most easily recognised by the white horse that sits atop the roof. The last time it came down from the roof, it made the front page of the December 1984 Lincolnshire and Boston Guardian, following the news that the then occupant of the forge, Mr E Walker, discovered an iron plate inside bearing the words "Isaac Spight, Brigg, 1873". In addition, according to the article, there was a copy of a newspaper "The Gazette" dated 5th April 1873. An article about the horse reads as follows:
"A fine piece of work was cast at the foundry of Mr Spight, Victoria Ironworks, last Monday, of a horse for the Duke of St. Albans. Many of our readers will have the pleasure of seeing it as they pass through the interesting and picturesecque village of Redbourne. It is cast in iron and will take the place of an old wooden horse, which had stood many a storm on top of the old blacksmith's shop, but was struck by lightening last summer and broke into pieces".
Using old directories and censuses, a list of past Redbourne blacksmiths from at least 1841, has been identified as follows:-
Thomas WATMOUGH, until 1849
Jonathan WATMOUGH, 1849-1855
John NORTHING, 1855-1856
Thomas DORNER, 1856-1891
Robert William LAMBERT, 1891-1897
Samuel STOTHARD, c1897-?
Charles Ludlow WATSON, c1919-?
Enoch WALKER, ?- In 1939 he was still master blacksmith, until his passing in 1952.
The forge then stood vacant from 1952, used only as a playground and shelter, until Cameron took on the challenge of restoring this proud village forge back to its original purpose in 2018. The fires and chimneys stood largely intact, needing only minor repairs to the brickwork; the centuries-old boshes and tue irons (the inner workings of the fire that provide the crucial air flow to keep the fire burning hot) needed slightly more work to make them usable once again. Similarly, no longer acceptable to use a young boy to pump bellows all day to provide the air, electricity also had to be installed into the forge to bring it into the modern day. Yet, the craft of smithing itself, and the techniques used to forge the hot metal, are the same today as they have always been.