Forging the way to victory - National Blacksmiths Competition final comes to Dorset County Show

Blacksmiths from around the country will be descending on the Dorchester Showground next month to take part in the final of the annual National Blacksmiths Competition.

The competition is recognised as one of the most effective ways of promoting the Blacksmith’s craft and Dorset County Show (3-4 September) is the last of the ten qualifying agricultural shows participating across the UK this year.

Now in its 20th year, the competition started back at the beginning of May and has visited the Devon County, Royal Bath and West, Royal Cornwall, South of England, Three Counties, Royal Welsh and New Forest and will go to the Edenbridge and Oxted Show before the finale at the Dorchester Showground.

The competition is divided into two categories and points are accrued at each competition by the winners for “live” and “static” forgework, with each Show Champion winning ten points and the reserve being awarded four.

Dorset has a strong blacksmith tradition and the facilities at the Kingston Maurward Agricultural College are among the best in the country.

Its principal tutor Simon Grant-Jones has won the national competition twice and has recently been awarded a bronze medal by the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths, which sponsors the competition and has been in existence since 1299.

Its Chief Executive Martin Heath said the aim of the competition was to encourage budding blacksmiths to exhibit their work and have their skills recognised: “The network of county shows provides the ideal opportunity to showcase some of the best work taking place in the country.

“We are seeing a real change in the role of the blacksmith. Until fairly recently, every village had a blacksmith, whose role was to repair farm implements and make new tools but industrialisation and mechanisation along with cheap imports mean that products are now being replaced rather than repaired.

“We are seeing a rise in the artisan blacksmiths, who are using their creativity to produce bespoke products, such as decorative railings and cast iron kitchenware.”

Richard Cuzens, Dorset County Show Secretary, said he was delighted the final round of the competition was taking place at the Dorchester Showground.

“It will be great to see some of these blacksmiths using a combination of traditional techniques such as forging and fire welding alongside more modern methods such as laser-cutting.”

Rebecca Cox
8th Aug 2016 15:15:00

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