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The blacksmith's forges were very important to the community of Hungerford. The blacksmith manufactured essential items such as nails and tools, as well as repairing farm implements.
The ancient craft of farriery (shoeing horses) has been practised since Romans times - normally by blacksmiths. In 1890 a scheme for the examination and registration of "shoeing smiths" was brought into operation. Those who passed were placed on the Register, and were allowed to put "RSS" (Registered Shoeing Smith) after their name. Since The Farriers (Registration Act 1975, however, only registered farriers are permitted to shoe horses.
- 108 High Street - site of Buckeridge's blacksmiths through the 19th century.
- Eddington blacksmiths, c1912. On the left is shown a group of men outside the wheelwright and blacksmiths, including Norman Higgins (blacksmith), Jim Middleton (carpenter) and
Bill Wiggins (blacksmith).
- Arthur J Barret, blacksmith at The Forge, Bridge Street from 1957 until c1965.
- Blacksmith "At Work in the Forge" (possibly Arthur J. Barrett), by Mrs J. Lovelock, Hungerford W.I. (Jack Williams collection)
Local blacksmiths include:
- Alex Burton had been blacksmith here in 1634.
- Zachary Turton, 1683. In the will of John Dicks 1683 Zachary Turton is described as blacksmith. (see 87-88 High Street)
- Henry Burton the younger of Charnham Street, blacksmith, aged 32 or thereabouts (Law suits, Court of Chancery), 1724
- Henry Burton senior, husband of Millicent, blacksmith, of Charnham Street (Law suits, Court of Chancery), 1724.
- Edward Woodham: in 1737/8 Edward Wodham blacksmith insured his premises on W. side High St. "dwelling house, brewhouse, and woodhouse adjoining on west side of High Street. Stone, timber, slated, tiled, £150 dwelling house, £50 brewhouse: total £200".
- Moses Birch (1756 Constables Accounts include "Reced of Moses Birch blacksmith for his Incum 5s 0d).
- Samuel Burton - (1796 Berkshire Directory). Possibly a descendant of The two Henry Burtons (see above).
Richard Burton contacted the Virtual Museum Jul 2012 saying: "Researching my family history I found several more generations of Burtons in Charnham Street starting with Alexander (died 1634), Alexander (died 1664), and so on. I have yet to link them to my family who lived at Quinnells on Burtons Hill in Kintbury and Isaac Burton of Hamstead Marshall, deported in 1831 following the Machinery Riots in 1831. However when my grandfather Francis Henry James Burton (born Quinnells 1878 and by that time living in Putney) hit hard times he applied to emigrate to New South Wales, which is where Isaac was sent. They were refused because my grandmother was pregnant again and Francis brought his family to Quinnells in 1912 where my father Francis Henry was born in August that year. If any one has more information I would love to talk to them." [If you can help, please email the Administrator.] Samuel Burton also owned the White Hart Inn and took out fire insurance for both properties with a total insurance of £400.
- Benjamin Salisbury, 32 High Street, 1795. Benjamin Salisbury inherited 32 High Street from his wife’s family in 1794. He was Constable of the town for the three years from 1801-1803, during the celebrated case in Chancery concerning the town's rights in Freeman's Marsh brought by farmer Webb against the town (Webb v. Salisbury). He was said by defence counsel to have been a blacksmith and counsel continued that "the whole Corporation consists of little tradesmen who neither know, nor have the time to watch for, the gradual encroachments of their neighbours" (such as they claimed the Hopgrass farmer had made on Freeman's Marsh). His three years of Constableship cannot have been altogether happy or without strain.
- John Lye (1796 Berkshire Directory). Nothing further is yet known.
- John Warner (1796 Berkshire Directory). Nothing further is yet known.
- Buckeridge family (Thomas, and later Joseph, then William as a vet and shoeing forge) at 108 High Street, c1830-1895
- Jonathan Bird - at 114 High Street, c1832-c1840 (later Thomas Oakes, then Edward Wiggins)
- Thomas Oakes - at 114 High Street, c1841
- Sarah Oakes - Cow Lane - blacksmith and farrier.
- Charles Oakes in 114 High Street (1891 Kelly Directory) - with Albert George Oakes later became Oakes Bros Ltd.
- Edward Wiggins - at 114 High Street, c1843
- Edwin Wiggins - at 114 High Street, c1847-c1871.
- Joseph Martin, in Robbins Yard, 11 Bridge Street.
- Charles Tanner, upper High Street
- Joseph Martin - blacksmith, 115 High Street, 1861.
- William Davis - in the 1854 and 1864 Billings Directory he is clearly at the "Three Horseshoes". Of interest, in the latter he is "Beer retailer & Blacksmith".
- Fred Bates in Hungerford Newtown (1891 Kelly Directory)
- William Davis in Hungerford Newtown (1891 Kelly Directory)
- John Froude in Eddington (1891 Kelly Directory)
- Vic Caswell & Giles, blacksmiths, Forge Cottage, 24 Bridge Street, c1920 - 1956. At 24 Bridge Street, Caswell's was a finishing blacksmiths, and later became Garage Services (Hungerford) Ltd. The business had been started in the 1890s by Vic's father Harry Caswell, as smith for Alfred Buckeridge, vets in the High Street. They later moved to Church Street, but these premises were burned out, the they moved to Earle's Stores, High Street. When this was cleared in 1911 for the provision of the new Post Office, they moved to Bridge Street. They made the entrance gates to the Bridge Street premises, and at the War Memorial Recreation Ground. An uncle, Tom Caswell used to be the smith for John McKerlie, vet in the High Street. Vic Caswell committed suicide in 1956 and the business closed.
- Arthur J Barrett: Gary Waterman contacted the Virtual Museum (Nov 2013) to add information (along with his mother, Rosemary Waterman) about his grandfather, Arthur J Barrett, who was the blacksmith at 24 Bridge Street after Vic Caswell.
Arthur learnt the trade in his father (Joseph Barrett)'s forge at Gerrards Cross. Arthur Barrett had been a blacksmith in Slough, but the forge was demolished because of road straightening. He and his wife Olive wanted to move to the country, and they bought the Bridge Street forge in 1957 for £2,300. It comprised the shop, house, three other cottages (which were let) and a large garden and grounds. The shop opened exactly one year after Vic Caswell's death.
Arthur had a number of prizes - and had been acclaimed the best farrier in the country by the award of the fariers' national championship. He also had won the Royal Show championship twice, first prize at the Royal Sow for gate-making, and the iron-work competition for a tow-and-a-half hour job at the Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate in 1956.
Arthur Barrett ran a mixed business, shoeing many of the racehorses at the stables in Lambourn as well as making and repairing tools and machinery. He was the county and national blacksmith champion for 2 years running, and one wall of the forge was covered in prizes. Rosemary says he was a poor businessman, often bartering for his work rather than charging a proper fee.
He designed his own work, and in 1965 had just finished a gate for a Wokinghsm church centnary, symbolic of its name St Sebastian. Animals and flowers often feature, including fa goat for the Royal Goat Hotel in Wales. He had commissions at millionaires' homes. as well as delicate nursery window grilles of rabbits and other animals.
Even in the 1960s he was making shows for about 200 riding ponies and hunters in the district.
He continued to use his father's anvil, and the forge was fire by Welsh navigation coal which gave an intencse heat despite looking like dust. Instead of the original bellows, he had modernised to an electric fan.
Arthur's wife was daughter of a blacksmith, Mr S Avery at Slough, where Mr Barrett senior also had a business. Their son Michael (16 in 1965) had just started his blacksmith training at Banbury.
Surrounded as he was by the river Dun and Town & Manor Fishery water, there was an increasing friction between him and the Town & Manor, especially during Beating the Bounds. Confrontations with Mr Hawsley (Clerk to the Town and Manor), Dr Hope, and the Constable (1958-59) Philip Spackman were acrimonious, and are recorded in Arthur Barrett's family history. The Barretts made significant changes to the properties, demolishing two of the cottages, and making internal improvements to the main house.
He retired early, (in the late 1960s) and sold the property to Mr Coles(?) for £15,000. Arthur and Olive Barrett moved to Frimley near Camberley, then Brixham, Lambourn. Hungerford then Newbury. See "Blacksmiths are still fine craftsmen", NWN 1965/66.