The Churnet Valley Railway is delighted to announce, that through the hard work of our supporting charity The North Staffordshire Railway Company (1978) Ltd, a new building is to be built within the engineering facilities at Cheddleton that will en-house both a forge and hammer.
The former Thomas Bolton’s Works at Froghall donated a forge to the NSRC a number of years ago, and this was used as part of the Churnet Valley’s Education Days on the railway by a trained metalsmith for demonstration purposes. However due to the expansion of engineering facilities at Cheddleton in 2013, combined with the limited space, we were forced to temporarily remove this from our program, and our metalsmith Rod moved on to Anson Engine Museum in Poynton to continue his trade. With this latest development though we will be able to re-introduce this activity to our Education Days, and Rod is planning to return to Cheddleton along with his new apprentice who is currently learning the trade of a metalsmith himself.
To develop this further the NSRC applied for a grant from Staffordshire Moorlands District Council's “Partnership Board” to purchase a redundant Massey Open space hammer and associated tools from Thomas Bolton’s, to go with the forge and expand the number of tasks possible in the new proposed building that will be built alongside the current engine shed. The Partnership Board has kindly approved this at their most recent meeting, and the railways volunteers are now cracking on with their plans in order to have the forge set up as soon as possible. The grant will also cover the cost of refurbishing the equipment before its installation at Cheddleton.
The forge and hammer will then be used to repair and manufacture wrought iron items for the railways collection of locomotives and rolling stock as well as items around the railway such as fences and station pieces. Once established, the railway should then be able to provide a service for other local organisations within the community as well its self.
The building itself forms another part of the wider Churnet Valley Living Landscape Partnership Project, with the cost of the building being covered by an additional grant under this wider project. The installation of the forge and hammer will allow the public to see a heritage skill being rejuvenated, whilst also allowing people to be trained in a diminishing trade.