Lights Camera Action! April 2013

2nd April 2013


BBA found themselves on the telly recently talking about the restoration of The Smithy at Hetton le Hole.

It is a late 18th Century Grade II building and as most surviving smithies date from mid to late 19thC, this makes it an exceptional survivor.

It is located in the village conservation area, to the west of the historic core bounded by Front Street, Park View and the burn in Hetton Dene.

 The village dates from medieval times and saw growth during the industrial revolution, when its commodities of gravel and sand where extracted. Coal production commenced in 1820, the rope haulage railway to the river Wear was commenced in 1822 using Stephenson stationary engines. The village continued to expand up to the closure of the colliery in 1950.

The Smithy is a small rectangular building open to the roof with space for storage, working and hearth at the south. It has a small off shoot to the east for fuel and bellows. Tools are racked on the east and west walls. The west features a bench with Yorkshire sliding sash above it. There is a further portable bench in the centre. The north end is for horse shoeing undercover and light storage.

Its structure is made up of stone walls, with brick infill panels, pantile coverings, elementary truss roof, brick fire hood and chimney stack. The floor is divided into a combination of beaten earth by the hearth and timber railway sleepers onto earth, at the north end (better for horses to stand on whilst being shoed).

Whilst in need of repair, it is still a working forge and contains a historical collection of blacksmithing tools and products within it. These items are a significant element of the Smithy.

The Smithy is one of the few remaining unchanged vernacular buildings in the area. Its operation like the building, in upholding hand craft tradition techniques, has not much changed in 200 years and as a consequence, it links folk memory back to the industrial revolution and provides a connection to the village’s and surrounding areas’ pre industrial agricultural past.

The Smithy makes a significant social and industrial contribution to the Limestone Landscape it is within. See The Limestone Landscape website for more information on this and other projects:

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