The Village Blacksmith in Palterton

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Our forefathers in Palterton were mostly agricultural labourers and associated trades.  All were based on the horse as the main means of power.  One such trade was that of the village blacksmith.

His part in the daily needs of village life was vital.  He was highly skilled in farriery.  He repaired and made tools and equipment for local farms and households.

The village craftsmen in Palterton were of a family tradition, their skills passed from father to son.  Sometimes he took an apprentice, who started by paying his master a small weekly fee, gradually receiving a small wage himself as he became more skilled.

The village blacksmith did more than shoe horses.  He repaired many metal objects used both in the home and on farms.  Many of the iron and steel implements used on the farm had been made in the smithy.

For our blacksmith no task was too small and many times he would spend his time repairing play hoops taken for repair by village children.  The charge was mostly one penny.

This photograph c.1910 shows some iron cart fittings that a blacksmith would have supplied

He made iron tyres (rims) for the cart wheels and other iron fittings that were used on carts.  Village blacksmiths of yesteryear worked hard and long hours, often for little pay.  It was not unusual to receive payment in kind.

The Whitworth family were the village blacksmiths from around 1800 and probably earlier.  Between 1900 and 1950 George Henry Whitworth was the blacksmith in Palterton.  He was a stocky built powerfull man and an excellent craftsman.  His relatives had been blacksmiths in the village before him.

Village children spent hours outside the 'smithy' on Main St., watching him shoeing the shire horses.

As a youngster, little did I know as I watched him make an ordinary piece of metal into a horseshoe, that my great, great grandfather William Richards (1763 to 1808) had also been a blacksmith in Nuthall, Nottinghamshire.

George Henry Whitworth, blacksmith, seen with fellow blacksmith Mr. Askew and Mr. Skelton in the background

George was a respected member of the village and an excellent local cricketer who enjoyed his sport.

I can see 'old George' now, clothed in a leather apron, pumping the fire with hand-operated air bellows, placing the metal into the roaring fire to get it hot.  When that stage was reached he would transfer the hot metal from the fire on his long tongs to his anvil, where with his hammer, he would skilfully knock it into the shape of a horseshoe.

He would dip the hot metal into the cold water, that was kept in the cooling trough at the front of the hearth, for quenching certain work.

He would then go to where the horse stood patiently and with his back to the horse, he would pick up the horse's foot and hold it between his legs whilst removing the old shoe, cleaned the foot and pared the hoof using a rasp, searcher and pairing knife.  When he was satisfied the new shoe fitted perfectly, it was nailed into place.

At one time, George Whitworth also worked one day each week at the Scarcliffe forge, owned by a man named Askew.

During the 1940's the need for a village blacksmith lessened as more and more farm work was mechanised and George's son (Geoff.) decided to follow another career altogether.  Subsequently, the last village blacksmith retired and the smithy closed in the late 1940's.

George Henry Whitworth was born in 1883, the son of George Edward Whitworth and wife Mary Whitworth formerly Tomlinson.  He was one of six children.  George Henry Whitworth married Pat Taylor and they had one son, whom they named "Geoff".

History of the Palterton Blacksmith from c.1800.

1813.Francis Whitworth, blacksmith and wife Ann, baptised their son Charles at Scarcliffe Parish Church.

1831.Pigot's Directory of Derbyshire 1831.  William Whitworth, blacksmith Glapwell.

1850.The Tithe Map and Award revealed Francis Whitworth and occupied properties, amounting to 4 acres 27 perches namely: number 92 - Millstone Yard, Grass. number 163a - Upper Yard, Grass. number 164 - House, Buildings, yard, garden & croft.  The properties were in the same location as the present buildings.

1851.Francis Whitworth, blacksmith aged 40 years appears on the Palterton census.  He had 6 acres of land and had taken over from his father.

1861.Ann Whitworth, widow, blacksmith aged 40 years appears on the Palterton census.  She had 4 acres of land.  Her brother in law Charles Whitworth aged 46 yrs., a journeyman blacksmith lived with her.

1871.Charles Whitworth, blacksmith aged 57 years appears on the Palterton census.  He was unmarried, living with his nephew George Whitworth, a blacksmith aged 10 years.

The correct name should be George Edward Whitworth.  Subsequently, he married and had a daughter Annie who married a James Brown, the son of the first Police Sergeant in nearby .

1881.Charles Whitworth, blacksmith aged 67 years appears on the Palterton census.  He was unmarried, living with his nephew George Whitworth, a blacksmith aged 20 years, his wife and their four children.

1881.Kelly's Trade Directory for Derbyshire.  Charles Whitworth, a blacksmith.

1891.George Whitworth, blacksmith aged 38 years appears on the Palterton census.  His uncle Charles, a blacksmith aged 78 years lives with him.  Two other blacksmiths recorded in the village.  This entry relates to George Edward Whitworth.

1901.The census for Palterton reveals Mary Whitworth aged 49 years and son George Henry Whitworth aged 18 years as a Blacksmiths apprentice.  I conject that George Edward Whitworth had died.

1932.Kelly's Trade Directory for Derbyshire.  Whitworth George, blacksmith.

1936.Kelly's Trade Directory for Derbyshire.  Whitworth George, blacksmith.

1941.Kelly's Trade Directory for Derbyshire.  Whitworth Geo. H. blacksmith.

The Village Blacksmith in Palterton


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Created 2 December 2001
Last updated: 19 November 2004