For centuries blacksmiths were at the centre of every community, providing the essential services of shoeing horses, making and mending metal tools and wheels.. The Forge is fascinating example with many original features and closely tied to Spalding’s history as a port and market town.
The Forge has its origins in the mid 1700’s but building as seen today was constructed in the early nineteenth century, the forge came into the possession of Mr George Dodd in 1899. The family worked from these premises for three generations, during a period which saw a steady decline in the blacksmith’s role. Adapting to this change Mr Geoffery Dodd, George’s grandson, spent much of his career designing and building the frames for floats in Spalding’s Flower Parade.
In the 1980s, nearing retirement and with the building in a poor state of repair, Mr Dodd approached the South Holland District Council (SHDC) to take on the forge. After two years of discussions the site was purchased from him by SHDC for the nominal fee of £1, on September 20th 1988.
In 2011 The Friends of Chain Bridge Forge were formed and took the Forge on a 25 year lease. The Heritage Lottery Fund award the Forge £50,000 to restore the Forge and make it accessible. This award was followed by £10,000 to record the history of the community.
Mid 1700’s – Origins of the Forge
1800′s – Building is purpose built as a Blacksmith’s workshop and in the ownership of Joseph Rose. Click here to read more about this family
1826 – White’s Directory shows Francis South was Blacksmith at this time
1849 – Edward Fisher buys the Forge and this continues until 1898. Click here to read more.
1850 – 1860 – The Forge Accounts show the Blacksmith was servicing the boats at Spalding Port
1899 – The Dodd Family take ownership of the Forge. Click here for more information
20th Century – 3 Generations of the Dodd Family worked the forge
1960′s – 70′s – Geoffery Dodd designs and builds many of the frames for the floats in Spalding’s famous Flower Parade
1988 – The South Holland District Council agree to purchase the forge from Mr Dodd for the nominal fee of £1
2010 – Work begins on developing the site into a museum and the Friends are founded the following year
2012 – Forge is officially open to the public on the 8th of September
What We Do
Here at Chain Bridge Forge we have revived the Blacksmith’s craft within its original setting, and created a Living Forge. Both on site and online, we demonstrate the Blacksmithing skills and techniques that would have been used by the Chain Bridge Forge Blacksmiths, and others like them the world over.
Chain Bridge Forge is a living museum, lead by volunteers and is a non profit for profit company. The museum is small independent museum receiving no public funding for running costs. The museum has the following themes.
- Blacksmithing – This theme celebrates Blacksmithing and the buildings history. We have a Blacksmith and we takes on commercial work, demonstrations and taster sessions.
- Local History – The Forge has created an online local history collection which boast nearly 7000 artefacts covering the South Holland area. The website is supported by social media and is predicted to achieve 150,000 views this year. We use this to communicate with our community and receive feedback.
- Innovation – This was started to try and get craft back to schools. HLF funded us to create a virtual reality Blacksmith in conjunction with the Dr John Murray of the University of Lincoln. From this project we were able to set up an Innovation Lab within the Forge which includes 3D Printers/ Scanners and Virtual Reality. We take on paid work for the community.
- Outreach – Finally we have a portable forge which we take out to events providing demonstrations and tasters. We also use our local history collection to do talks and particularly talks for people with dementia providing reminiscence sessions.
- Note: The Forge obligation to mitigate the risks to our volunteer and visitor due to COVID -19 is defined in our Handbook