J Churchill Blacksmith, Dartmouth

J Churchill Blacksmith
The New Forge, Capton
TQ6 0JE Dartmouth
Devon
Phone:
01803 712535

Description

My interest in iron started in 1978 when I enrolled as an apprentice welder in Clermont-Ferrand, a town in the Auvergne region of France. This being a region with a rich architectural heritage and much surviving vernacular ironwork there was inspiration to be had at every turn and I soon found myself besotted. On leaving the Auvergne my intention was to take work within the oil industry outside of Europe. I gradually made my way, (acquiring, unwittingly, along the way my trademark to be… see ‘Elephants?’ ) and eventually ended up in the Sudan, working as a welder. During this period my interests began to extend to the processes behind the ironwork. Generous leave arrangements allowed time to wander fairly widely within the Sudan and I began to be fascinated by the ingenious processes and techniques of the traditional African Smiths.
Their fire in a hole in the ground, with no more equipment than a couple of goatskin bellows, a few hammers and maybe a lump of old machinery for an anvil, they were busy recycling the debris of the industrial age to suit their own, and their community’s everyday needs. Not only were their labours wonderfully fruitful in practical respects; but there was something about the process of hot-forming this otherwise intransigent material that seemed to breathe life and beauty into the finished artefacts, something that I increasingly felt to be absent from the labours in which I was engaged. Upon my return to the U. K. I was suffering from a feeling of mission.
Taking work in a marine oriented engineering firm I set up my own forge at home and started to teach myself. Initially I made stoves, using them as vehicles for the forging of hinges and catches etc. In 1988, I set up in business to forge traditional door and window furniture. Since then we have branched out into the fulfilment of diverse commissions, large and small. We remain, however, a small business dedicated to quality rather than quantity, and welcome the stimulating diversity …


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Blacksmiths & Forgemasters
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