Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Forging in Wednesbury

One of our current projects is the survey and excavation of a forge in Wednesbury.

Clocking on.

The earliest documentary evidence of forging activity on the site dates to 1597 and it is rich in artefactual evidence from the last 400 years (see some of the finds here). We have been undertaking a photographic survey of the most recent period of activity on the site, recording the mid twentieth century buildings and their contents.

The toolshop.

In this part of the forge, tool moulds and other machinery parts were produced and repaired before being used in the forge.

Many employees seized on opportunities to personalise their workspace, displaying photographs, newspaper cuttings, or their collection of fruit stickers.

Many of the forge's products were exported across the globe, as this tool mould shows.

Accidents were inevitable and a dedicated First Aid block was provided in the 1930s. It had separate entrances for male and female employees, two side rooms and a central treatment room.

The First Aid block contained mid twentieth century furniture and fixtures. Injuries to eyes and ears were common, as were sprains, and this is reflected in the contents of the medicine cabinet: bottles of eye wash, olive oil and bandages.

Employees used the toilet facilities to let each other know what they thought of their working conditions...

...and more important matters

Employees used spare materials to construct this bench outside the forge.

When the forging operation closed last year, many of the employees painted their dates onto the wall.


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