Ravenstonedale Kirkby Stephen Cumbria

Millennium Map Project. Blacksmiths

Contributor: David Morris
Ravenstonedale, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria

Conversation with Bob Hayton on 8 February 2000.

Asked about the building, now an ivy-covered ruin on Ash Fell (above the cottages belonging to Peter Blezard off Blaeflatt Lane), Bob recalled that it was a flourishing smithy where two brothers, Luke and Billy Walmesley, shoed horses and did other blacksmith jobs.

They were in that position partly in order to serve the mining that was going on along Ash Fell, but also there were plenty of people wanting their horses seen to, farmers, tradesmen etc. Luke and Billy were relatives of Mark Handley (Bob's uncle) through Mark's mother, who was a Walmesley.

Bob recalled as a child, peering in to see Luke and Billy at work with bellows, fire and anvil; he said you had to be ready to run because Luke and Billy didn't like having children near (for safety reasons) and would chase you off if you came too near.

The smithy was wound up before Bob began work. Luke and Billy lived and had the blacksmith's shop where 'The Forge' in Main Street now is. Bob thought they built the smithy themselves. Bob also went on to mention Market Day in Ravenstonedale, which he thought was on a Tuesday. This was in response to my querying the number of horses there might have been for Luke and Billy to deal with. He recalled there were a lot, particularly on Market Day when lots of people trading various goods, eg eggs, fish etc, would be around the Black Swan area and would leave lots of horses, with ponies and traps, tied up anywhere in the street and up Blaeflatt Lane. There were quite a few drunks, who came from Newbiggin, to the Black Swan and whom he was told to avoid.

Sadly, Bob died some days later on Sunday 13 February 2000 aged 85.