The blacksmith’s, Roxby

I came across the photograph below in a World War II copy of Riding magazine from Jan-March 1943. If you’re wondering about the unusual dating, Riding was then down to four issues every year because of paper shortages. At its foundation in 1936, and through to the early years of the war, it was a monthly publication. As well as how often it was published, the focus of its articles changed as the war progressed. Rather than how, as a horse person, to cope with what the war threw at you, escape became the entirely understandable focus.

Reader J D Robinson contributed this photograph, which is of a blacksmith’s at Roxby, North Yorkshire, purely so readers of the magazine could see it as a small break from the pressures of war.

Another correspondent in the same issue talked of the importance of being able to have some relaxation so that war work could be carried on – “The Managing Director of a certain aircraft factory puts in a superhuman number of hours on the job… He has turned to the horse now, and relies on this to give him the brief relaxation necessary to enable him to carry on work at such terrific pressure.”

I wonder if looking at this building had some of that same effect. I have never seen anything like it, and my immediate thought when seeing it was to wonder if it still existed. So many fascinating buildings have been bulldozed out of existence in the interests of expedience or profit.

It does. It became a listed building on November 20, 2001 – rather late bearing in mind its unusual form, but then working buildings have not always been at the top of conservation focus.

The cottages and the forge have Turton Cottages 1858 inscribed above the door. The Turton family built the school in the village, and presumably this range of cottages. J Turton Esq, physician to George III, bought the manor of Roxby from the Boynton family. He died in 1806 and had no children, so his estates were left to Edmund Peters, who took the name of Turton. It is Edmund’s family who were most probably responsible for this building.

The building was still used as a forge in the 1950s, when the farrier was a Mr Severs. When it became redundant, I am not sure: presumably a victim of the fact that farriers now travel to you, and not the other way round.

It’s lovely to see the building is still there. I wonder if there will ever be a world in which it will return to its original use.


Listing on Historic England

Another view of the cottages and forge

A photograph of the working forge with Mr Severs, dating from c.1950

Original photograph, J D Robinson, Riding Magazine, Jan–Mar, 1943
Modern photograph © Copyright Stanley Nixon, to whom many thanks for sending it.

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