Forging ahead with museum

The forge next to the River Welland in Spalding
The forge next to the River Welland in Spalding
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A 20-YEAR dream to re-open a Spalding blacksmith’s forge as a “living museum” looks set to come true after council bosses backed a bid to bring it back into use.

South Holland District Council has agreed to lease out Chain Bridge Blacksmith’s Forge, in High Street, and pledged £900 for maintenance work.

The building will be taken on by a newly formed Friends of Chain Bridge Forge, who this weekend submitted a bid for £50,000 of Lottery money to fund the transformation.

The group wants to demonstrate the blacksmith craft and tell the social history of the building and trade – with links to the Gleed Boys’ School and the chance to let pupils learn how to use the tools of the trade.

They also want to collate pictures and recollections of people who used the forge for a visual and oral history.

Geoff Taylor, who is setting up the Friends group, said: “It is a wonderful old building – a typical blacksmith’s forge.

“We want this to be a living museum – we don’t want it to be static. We want young people to get involved, understand and see it working.”

The idea was talked about by the last owner Geoff Dodd, who the council bought it off in 1989. He is also involved in the current project.

The building and its contents its managed by the council as part of the Ayscoughfee Hall Museum and Gardens Trust.

Coun Nick Worth, portfolio holder for the council’s rural strategy, said: “The council has always been looking for opportunities to do something with it.

“The Friends have come forward with a plan to take it on for an educational use and to open it to the public and it will be really good to see it come back into use.

“Really this is a classic big society project – a group of volunteers coming forward offering to take it on.

“It will add to the attractions of the town.”

Members and officers will offer advice and guidance to the Friends and will nominate a councillor onto the board.

The forge building dates back to the 1800s and used to service boats that came into the port at Spalding.

The Friends hope to open the forge for Flower Parade weekend on April 30 to attract support to their cause – particularly their search for members and anyone with photos or memories of when it was in use.

To contact Mr Taylor call 07960 587724.