Stuff in the rear view mirror…

Just a quick heads up for a couple of things that caught my eye in the last few days. First of all, yet another beautifully crafted post from Susan Marie Ward over on her blog Staffordshirebred. This one deals with Aldridge, and is really, really excellent.

I think Susan is up there with the very best local history writers at the moment. She really is creating some fine stuff. Susan doesn’t write with great frequency, but when she does, it’s very impressive indeed – perhaps there’s a lesson in there somewhere. I know I keep mentioning her here, but if you’re not following, you’re really missing a trick.

There’s usually some sharp observation from a certain Peter Cutler in the comments, too…

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Susan is getting better all the time with the visual stuff too. Click on the screenshot to visit her blog.

Secondly, a great video sent to me by local historian and Shire Oak expert Clive Roberts. Clive found this short film about forging nails, and thought it would be of interest to the Walsall Wood contingent, particularly Davids Evans and Oakley who’ve spoken a lot about the nailing history of The Wood.

Thanks to Clive, it’s a lovely thing to watch a skilled chap at work.

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10 Responses to Stuff in the rear view mirror…

  1. David Oakley says:

    Big thanks to Clive Roberts for locating the video, ‘How to forge a nail’ and to Bob for publication. Adds to our nailing discussion of a while ago, quite nicely, as well as giving a practical example of the harshness of the life a hundred and fifty years ago, in which the wife and children, as well as the husband took an active part Those hammers were just as heavy then, as they are now, and although the environment looked much healthier than the dark hovels in which they worked, the actual process of making a nail looked basically the same. How many times was that hammer lifted to make just one nail? as well as the driving force needed to cut and point. A good, thought-provoking video.
    Thank you..

  2. Clive says:

    Hello Dave, i viewed a number of videos of making nails, but they would reheat the job a number of times, then i came across this bloke, he made the nail in one go, no reheating of the job.
    Thats the way to do it.

  3. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    many thanks to Clive for this very interesting flim clip. In your blog article “Walsall Wood – a short history by Margaret Brice” the booklet shows a photo of one of the local forges..on page 17…but I can’t tell if Mr Jackson, the smith, is making nails. I wonder if any nailmakers’ anvils still exist in local families’ “heirloooms” . David Oakley mentioned in one of his kind comments in the Streets Corner thatched cottage articles that the nailmaker’s anvil is a different shape, and we can clearly see this in Clive’s film .
    kind regards

  4. Sorry guys, this is just a black smith making iron spikes with a head. A true nailer would not use a horse shoeing anvil, way too expensive.. A foot operated hammer was the norm. A 12 to 20 foot Ash pole would be used as a return spring, which was attached to a foot board with a line. The nailer would “jig” on the foot board to bring the hammer down on to the “Block”, Many nailers could not afford an anvil. They simply struggled to get enough to eat, never mind live or buy/hire their tools or coal for the forge to heat the iron, check out the truck system as the Iron Master controlled every single part of their life. The history of nail making is interesring. Iron was supplied by an iron master as a bundle of iron rods, They where weighed out by the Master and the finished nails as well as the scrap where re weighed when the lot was finished, so the the nailer could not keep any rood behind to make a few as a side line! they were expected the produce a 1000 nails from a bundle. However, a thousand nails depended on the size of the rods. It could be anything between 600 to 1200 nailes per 1000. Have a look at Bromsgrove Nailers, Bromsgrove produced around 6,000,000 hand forged nails per week and I’m desended from Bromsgrove nailers.

    • Pedro says:

      The is a great description of the nailers of South Staffs in another article from the Graphic of 1880, entitled “Women at Work”, I’m sure Bob will put it up in due course.

      Just a little controversial sampler…

      …When you see the women working, too often the men are at the tap rooms, or congregating at coursing or sporting matches, or with the pigeons in their in their little boxes, carrying them to the green lanes. The men are too often loungers at the racecourse, or loiterers at the public house corner, while womenly hands wield the hammer, and womenly feet impel the treadle of the “Oliver”…

  5. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    thanks, Barry! and for the references
    kind regards

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