Heddon-on-the-Wall blacksmiths forced to close after over 120 years

FOR more than a century, the clang of the blacksmith’s anvil rang out loud and clear in Heddon-on-the-Wall.

FOR more than a century, the clang of the blacksmith’s anvil rang out loud and clear in Heddon-on-the-Wall.

But now the sound has stopped in the Tyne Valley village after the blacksmiths became a victim of the recession.

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The Roman Wall Forge has been run by four generations of the Amos family since 1886, but brothers Charlton and Ridley Amos, aged 65 and 63, say there is no future in the now bygone industry.

At its peak, Amos Bros employed 24 people and did work on major projects, as well as the minor jobs which kept local farms and businesses ticking over.

“But the work has completely dried up now,” admitted Ridley yesterday. “It has been falling away, deteriorating rapidly, for the last two years.

“Once upon a time we had three or four orders every day. But in this whole calendar year we have had only one major inquiry.

“We are saddened – Charlton and I are ready to retire but Charlton’s son Michael would have taken over the business and carried it into the fifth generation of the Amos family.

“However, it is not to be. We have ceased trading and have auctioned off the firm’s goods. It is the end of an era.”

Amos Bros was set up by Harry Amos when Queen Victoria was on the throne 125 years ago, and passed down through the generations, as much a part of Heddon as the village pubs and nearby Hadrian’s Wall. Indeed, the blacksmiths was originally based at The Swan, but four decades ago moved to its current site behind the village school near Towne Gate.

“Even in recent times, Amos Bros did work on the Tyneside Metro system, the Metrocentre, Kielder Reservoir and, 10 years ago, the wrought-ironwork at Alnwick Garden,” said Ridley. “We’ve done fantastic work in the past, but it’s all gone now. It’s partly due to the change in the traditional methods, but also the recession. The builders just don’t have any work these days.

“We were just living on the farmers and small repairs, and we couldn’t keep going on that.” As Charlton’s son Michael helped to clear out the premises, he said: “Work has died down and it’s very sad.

“The Roman Wall Forge has been here a long time but it has been sold and the blacksmiths is no more.”

The forge – valued at £300,000 – has been sold to a young professional couple who now plan to demolish it and build a private home in its place.

“Quite a lot of villagers are disappointed to see us go,” reflected Ridley. “They have been calling in at the shop and remembering the good days with us.

“But those days, like the trade, are gone now.”

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