Forging blacksmiths

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Coal smoke is drifting from the chimney and the sound of hammer on metal can again be heard at Nicol’s Blacksmith Shop in Duntroon.
In May, the Nicol’s Blacksmith Historic Trust began the hunt for a blacksmith to work in its building on Duntroon’s main street.
While a resident blacksmith has not been found, there is plenty of activity at the forge, with a focus now on teaching practical skills.
A planning workshop was held in June, which attracted nearly 30 people.
Of those, 20 completed several workshops and tried out the tools of the blacksmith’s trade.
The trust held two practical days for volunteers in July.
Trustee Mike Gray said he was excited about the developments.
“It’s been a pretty busy time … I’m excited, really. No-one could have predicted we would get interest from 10 people wanting to volunteer. Those are the kind of numbers we need to be successful.”
He said a resident blacksmith was a “nice, aspirational goal” but not practical.
“At the moment, I can’t see that being achieved.”
He said it would only happen if someone was willing to give up fulltime employment or retiring.
“It’s very hard work.
“At the moment, we want to boost our days from one day a week and then to two, and grow like that. It’s better to set realistic goals and achieve them than set unrealistic goals and fail.”
Some of the volunteer blacksmiths have experience in the trade, while others have none.
They will have the chance to gain experience over the next few months.
Training for beginners takes place on Sunday and then again on August 20, while a demonstration, a skill-sharing session, a twisting metal workshop and a tool sharpening workshop will be held in September.
Another skill-sharing session will take place in October.
The forge has been cleaned out and the bellows fixed and a work manual and log book have been created.
A memorandum of understanding between each volunteer and the trust has been written, and a health and safety policy put in place.
Mr Gray said he hoped in the future tools would be sharpened for the public as a way for the trust to raise funds.
A blacksmith first operated in Duntroon from about the late 1890s.
Later, a wheelwright arrived, followed by a mechanic, and in the late 1960s, Duntroon’s last blacksmith, Nicol Muirden, shut up shop. The trust was formed in 2006.