In the late 80’s I was working for a local motor factors delivering vehicle parts and one of my customers was Harry an ‘old school’ blacksmith, a lovely old chap, he must be in his 90’s by now. He’d always put his smoke covered kettle on the forge whenever I called, ready for a cuppa with him, I’d stand and watch him at work, forging the iron into weird and wonderful shapes, as easy as we could shape a piece of putty. In his earlier days, he used to shoe horses too, till age and flighty young horses got the better of him. There was none of the ready forged shoes for him, each shoe was made unique to the horses he shod. A master at his work.
During the 90’s when I was doing a photographic course, one of the modules I chose to do was a Photo Essay, the idea being to tell a story through photographs. I used to love watching Harry at work, and thought it an ideal subject, to tell the story of a horse shoe.
He was only too happy to let me photograph him and the following photos are some of the ones I used for my module, taken with B/W film, these are scanned from my negatives.
This is Harry, holding the sign I painted for him.
The old forge. I often drive past, but it is all locked up and quiet these days, Harry long since retired, as another trade of yesteryear slowly dies.
This is my lucky horse shoe that Harry made me many years ago, it is made from a shoe nail, I still carry it with me to this day.
The making of the horse shoe can be seen here on the slide show.
I have just heard the sad news that Harry died on 15th January 2014.
RIP old Harry x