Blacksmithing might be an ancient art but it's alive and well at Howick Historical Village.
John Burnett, Stuart McKinley and Paul Pope run George Wagstaff's blacksmith's shop at the village every live day and they're keen to get others involved in the craft.
"At the moment we're here once a month but we'd really like to train some more blacksmiths," Mr Burnett says.
"We're looking for people who are interested in crafting steel and iron. We want to get more members so we can work on making useful objects from the 1850s and 1860s."
George Wagstaff was the first blacksmith in Howick and set up his forge in Howe St where he repaired iron pots, carts and wagons, made tools, machinery, iron gates and locks and chains among other things.
Mr Burnett got his start in blacksmithing at the village when the decision was made to reopen the forge and the call went out for volunteers.
He had no experience with the craft but decided to give it a go.
"The three of us have been members of the Howick Historical Village for years and they were looking for volunteers to work the forge," he says.
"Blacksmithing is a popular hobby in the United States so there's quite a number of books and Youtube videos about it so basically I read books about 1850s steel craftsmanship and then go and do it.
"It's on-the-job training and we've been running the forge for about 2 years now. You can hear the sound of the hammer on the anvil from all over the village and it really helps bring the place alive."
The three men try to be self sufficient and pay for their materials and coal for the forge.
"We have a range of items we've forged that are for sale in the village gift shop but we also do work for others," Mr Burnett says.
"We recently did some work for the Tauranga City Council. They were refurbishing a lot of their old kauri timber gates and the problem they had was that the hinges were broken. These hinges would have been forged in the 1880s and they couldn't find anyone to make new ones. They'd heard of the blacksmith here and we were happy to replicate them."
In Fencible times life without a blacksmith would have been very hard and they were important members of the community.
Cartwheels, hinges, fences, farming equipment, saws and anything and everything made of steel and iron would have been forged by a blacksmith.
"Life without one would have been quite grim. Blacksmithing is a hobby you can get passionate about. There's really nothing you can't do if you're keen enough," Mr Burnett says.
"It's really interesting and we also get to learn about the old ways and carry them on."
Contact the Howick Historical Village on 576 9506 or visit fencible.org.nz for more information.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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