Alas Smith

With my ongoing fascination with the blacksmiths of Lichfield, I was interested to find a short article in an old newspaper about William Goodwin. At the time of the article, August 1950, Mr Goodwin was the oldest trading smith in the city, working with his son in the business his father had started before him.

The article says that at the turn of the century there had been around ten blacksmiths in Lichfield, with demand from stables at local inns and estates. Mr Goodwin remembered shoeing more than fifty horses a week, but in 1950 was doing less than ten. As a result of this reduced demand for the trade, Mr Goodwin’s forge was one of only three remaining in the city. Another of the three was Mr W Ball of St John St, who started his business after the First World War. He explained that his survival was down to the priority attached to agriculture, adding that his main work was now with agricultural implements and fixing wheels, most of the dealings with horses being confined to riding stables.

Of course, now there are none remaining.  Whilst Lichfield is clearly no Birmingham or Black Country, it did of course have its trades and sites of industry. I think that this is sometimes forgotten and so I’m always pleased to be reminded of where Mr Goodwin’s forge (the one where apparently a man from France had his dancing bear shod of course!) stood on Beacon Street and of the other blacksmiths of Lichfield, when I see the street names ‘Smithy Lane’ and ‘Forge Lane’. Place names can tell stories, and should always be chosen with care.

 

Water Work

One of my favourite weekends in Lichfield is the free and family friendly Fuse festival held at Beacon Park each year. Last year, the appalling weather almost caused the event to be cancelled, yet organisers Lichfield Arts managed to overcome adversity and algae and put on a fantastic festival. This year the weather couldn’t be more different, yet I hear water will still be a feature….

As part of Cafe Fuse, Walsall’s poet laureate, Ian Henery will be reading a poem about Sandfield’s Pumping Station, and the clean drinking water that was distributed to the Black Country from there. Ian will be introduced by David Moore, who as many will know, is passionate about preserving this part of Lichfield’s industrial heritage.

The theme of Fuse this year is ‘Keep it Local’, so get down there his weekend and listen to Ian and other local performers, sample some local food and drink and have yourself a fantastic time in your local park (well, it’s my local park anyway!). Full information on the weekend’s events can be found here.