Bringing the past back to the future

An eye-catching new artwork depicting the history of blacksmithing in Spalding is a step closer after a successful event to make chain links.

Scores of people went to Chain Bridge Forge in High Street on Saturday to get a taste of what life was like for generations of blacksmiths by stepping up to the anvil to forge a metal link, under the watchful eye of resident blacksmith Ryan Atkin.

More than 50 links were made in total, which will be used as part of the Pump, Grind and Smith art installation due to be put up outside the forge later this year.

The artwork is part of the new South Holland Industrial Heritage project, which has seen Chain Bridge Forge join forces with two of the district’s other heritage sites – Moulton Mill and Pinchbeck Engine – to tell the story of the area’s industrial past.

Geoff Taylor, of Chain Bridge Forge, said: “This is an exciting art project which will see installations at the three sites over the coming months.

“The installation at Chain Bridge Forge will form a barrier at the front of the site and depict the work of the forge and the last blacksmith who owned it, Geoff Dodd.

“It will be made of metal panels and include a number of mosaics, as well as the chain we created at our event on Saturday.

“It was a fantastic day, with lots of people having a go at blacksmithing.”

Chain Bridge Forge has exciting plans for the future and is looking for volunteers to be part of it.

The forge dates back to the 1700s and generations of blacksmiths have created the town’s metal features, fixed the boats which used to moor at the Port of Spalding and shod horses.

Today, it retains many of its original features and equipment.

As part of the Heritage South Holland project, the forge is pushing ahead with its mission of bringing this fascinating history to life by offering an exciting programme of demonstrations and taster events.

It is appealing for volunteer blacksmiths to step forward.

Geoff Taylor, of Chain Bridge Forge, said: “If you can spare a few hours a week to help Chain Bridge Forge deliver commissions, provide tasters and train other volunteers, we would like to hear from you.”

Geoff would also like to speak to anyone interested in becoming a volunteer manager at the forge.

The roles would involve managing a small team, dealing with customers, chatting to visitors and organising the work flow.

He added: “These are all volunteer roles but it is possible to share profit.”

Anyone interested is invited to drop into the forge or email a résumé to

South Holland Industrial Heritage is a Lottery-funded project. The project has seen the launch of a new website highlighting the history of the three sites, as well as all the latest news, events and information people need to make the most of their visits.

Geoff said: “It is a very exciting time at all three sites as we look at new ways of working together to tell the story of the district’s past in exciting ways which will really bring it to life for those who already have an interest in South Holland’s history, as well as a whole new generation.

“We are delighted with our new website, which is a real showcase of what all three sites have to offer. We urge everyone who has an interest in any aspect of South Holland’s history to visit it.”

The website, designed by Tracey Sweetland’s Plan B Marketing company, also incorporates the popular South Holland Life archive, which contains thousands of historical documents, photos and stories.

Find the website at, or follow South Holland Industrial Heritage on Facebook @southhollandindustralheritage.

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