and used to spend my lunch hours practicing with an oxy/acetelyne torch held in a bench vice and a piece of RSJ for an anvil.
I hammered out little jobs for friends and family out of scrap metal I found like belt buckles, brackets and even jewellery. It was a fair while before I had the opportunity to set up my own forge and it happened in quite an unexpected way.
I was at a chaps house one afternoon and was walking around the garden when I noticed some scrap metal in the hedge. I’ve grown a keen eye for rusted metal over the years and this piece instantly gained my interest. I recognised the form of a hearth and was delighted to discover it was was the remains of an Alcosa. A small tree had grown straight through the middle of it so I borrowed a saw, chopped it down and dragged it out. It was quite a wreck but there were parts that could be saved and parts that could be used as patterns for new ones.
Completely gone was the water bosch, tuyere and back plate. These would have
to be made new. A friend had some heavy gauge water pipe of the correct
diameter that I could use for the tuyere and my neighbour had a biscuit of 20mm
steel plate that would be perfect for the end closest to the fire. Everything else was fabricated a new from 3mm mild steel.
It all went back together almost exactly how it was originally built as there
was enough left of each part to get an idea of how it originally looked and what went
where. To my delight the blower and rheostat turned up in a nearby shed and
miraculously still worked! Finding these dated the forge to the 1950’s.
Another equally exciting discovery was an old anvil in one of Colin’s sheds. It transpired to belong to my great grandfather on my father’s side of the family. I do not know if he was a
blacksmith or no but Colin remembers working for my grandfathers monumental masonry business as an apprentice and the first job he was asked to do was break marble over the anvil to make chippings for the graves.
The anvil has since been dated to pre-1830’s so perhaps it has been with the Osborne’s for even longer than we know.
The forge building itself was built from the materials I had lying around at the time,
namely a few felled Ash trees and some uprights joists from a demolished barn.
It serves to make a great place to work..