Blacksmith’s were an huge part of village life for many generations. It was only as steam was introduced and horses used less and less that that their natural jobs in the Smithy were slowly closed down. Many did survive using numerous skills they’d obtained over the generations.
In my family there are 200 years of Smithy traditions (if not more) which only died our when my mothers cousin sold the business rather than handing it on and training the next generation in the family. Even so the Smithy is still there today and was very much independent for most of it’s life. You will find some Smithy’s were attached to local estates so the Lord of the area and the wealthy could have their horses shied without hassle.
A Blacksmith was a clever man who would command much respect in a village. In some instances he would be a Church Warden or even a Magistrate. The Blacksmith was the Engineer of the times, not only making horse shoes, also making tools and blades for people to use. If you look back and thought about it, you’d realise some would make Armour and swords in their forge along with everyday tools.
Can you imagine having your tooth pulled by a Blacksmith…UGH. This is another job he could have been called upon to do. No injections in those days either, more likely a pair of pliers gripping hod of the tooth and yanking it out. Another job would have been Horse Dealing. The Horse Dealing makes sense, after all you’d presume a Blacksmith would know his horse flesh, maybe this is why they were also sometimes called upon for veterinary services. One never knows how much work went on, though the skills shown mean the Blacksmith was literate, good at maths and even some science as he designed items of different kinds.
The forge was a hot, smelly and loud place with billows to control and heat the coals of the fire where the metal was heated so it could be shaped on the anvil. His sledge hammer crashing down clanging on the metal which he then dipped in cold water creating a bout of steam. He would do this over and over again until the item he was making was finished. Many Blacksmith made their own tools as young men during the time their father’s or uncles trained. On a sad note in my family line, the eldest boy in one generation was working with his father and kicked in the head by a horse. He died as a result, at the tender age of 18 years. Though sad, the young man had two younger brothers, one of who eventually took over the Smithy. My mother says it was under much protest, so her cousin said from the stories he heard from his Grandfather.