Hinckley Historian Magazine

Hinckley Historian Magazine No.18 - A village blacksmiths diary

Extracts from the Business Diary of Mr. Fullylove of Earl Shilton 1914-1915)

The village blacksmith has played a vital part in the life of any community for centuries past, his role only being recently eclipsed in the age of the motor-vehicle. Mr. Fullylove was the figure who fulfilled the role of blacksmith in Earl Shilton at the beginning of World War I, and at one time had three forges in operation.

Mr. Bevin of Peckleton, whose article appears elsewhere in this edition, made the Business Diary available to me. It is interesting to note that the one shilling diary has a list of carriers to Leicester and records that, "Bevins of Ashby Magna goes to and from Leicester - Nag’s Head on Saturday at 5.” My special to Mr. Bevin for providing the diary.

In the early part of this century the blacksmith would often work a twelve hour day without expecting retirement until ‘the great reaper’ stilled his essential labours. The diary indicates the extent to which a blacksmith would, be involved in the community keeping its transport in order by shoeing horses and mending carts and carriages, repairing all sorts of agricultural machinery and assisting in the industry of the area by carrying out repairs for the Gas Company and Enderby Granite Company as well as shoeing their horses. Domestic life needed the help of the blacksmith to repair holes in buckets kettles.

The diary gives evidence of all these activities. Equipment used by the blacksmith was the hearth with its fire, bellows and anvil. A great variety of hammers, tongs, punches, chisels etc. was also employed, but above all there was the skill of the blacksmith himself. In the case of the Earl Shilton blacksmith, this involved the work of farrier to a large extent and in 1890 the Farriers Company had inaugurated a registration scheme for shoeing smiths. Judging by the number of satisfied equine customers Mr. Fullylove had more than proved himself as a farrier.

The entries in the diary are those concerned with the daily routine of the blacksmith and the first entry in the month in which the 1914-18 War began is as follows;

Friday Aug. 24

Dick Cockeril - 2 new shoes steeled to hos.

R. Broome - 2 new shoes and 2 removes to mare.

Among other activities at the blacksmiths that day, was shoeing one other horse and mare, general repairs to scythes and with harvest time almost upon the villagers, various alterations to machinery. The process of removing shoes, rasping and fitting new shoes was an event which took place three or four times daily. The diary records the horseflesh as being "poney, hos, mare, nag or cob", the last two being saddle horses.

Enderby Granite Company frequently brought horses to Fullylove's:

Wednesday Aug. 29

Enderby Granite Co. - 4 new shoes to mare.

Thursday Aug.30

Enderby Granite Co. - removing of shoes to 2 mares and rasping 4 feet at farm - 3 hours

Emergency work is probably represented by the entry that follows:

Friday Aug. 31

Deacon - 1 old shoe to hos.

In the winter a frequent entry is that concerning frost nails, a seasonal need for horses:

Saturday Nov. 30

Dalby Poplans - frost nailing cart mare.

At the end of 1914 sums of money are entered under the names of various customers who clearly had the blacksmith1 s services on account.

Various repairs to carts and agricultural machinery occur.

Thursday Sep. 13

Ralph Clarke - lining coulter this makes 2 - 2 shillings

1 new axle & pieced on standard and fitted to plough wheel - 3 shillings 6 pence

These repairs, unlike shoeing, were not on account.

Work on carts and carriers' vehicles is typified by this entry under the name of Bevins:

Friday Nov. 2

Bevins - cutting and piercing 1 hoop tyre, setting and put on wheel.

A week before work on the trap of Mr. H. Bradbury had cost the princely sum of £2.4s.6d., £l.l6s.6d. for one rubber tyre and the rest for other repairs. More minor domestic repairs, such as that to Mr. Smith1 s milk bucket on October 27th cost a mere sixpence.

Finally it is worth recording that Mr. Fullylove indulged in farming on his own account. Buried amongst the details of shoeing and repair work on Wednesday September 27th it is recorded, "White sow served by Hunter's boar today", Nearly a year later Mr. Fullylove carried out his most costly enterprise – “Bought from Market Bosworth 10 sheep on 22nd Sep. 1915 - £l8~10s”.

Certainly, as a village blacksmith Mr. Fullylove served his community well and within his accounts of 1914 and 1915 there is neither mention of war nor motors which between them would bring the ancient village craft of the smith almost to an end and with it the Shilton forge of Mr. Fullylove.

Author: Hugh Beavin

Written for: Hinckley Historian Magazine