Smithy and garage, Eglwysbach
The date 1628 was found carved on a beam in this smithy building when the adjoining blacksmith’s house was extended. The smithy has been owned by the same family for about 200 years. Its main business was shoeing horses, but it also repaired farm machines and made ornamental gates. The weathervane on St Martin’s Church was made here.
The smithy had two hearths. During the First World War, it used a device to mass-produce horse shoes which were dispatched by the cartload to Tal-y-Cafn station. There they were loaded onto trains and taken to the battlefields of France and Belgium for military horses.
Opposite the smithy is a small garage. The old sign on the gable dates from the transition from horse to oil power:
John Jones RSS (Registered Shoeing Smith)
Oxy Acetylene & Arc Welding
Petrol Oils Tyres
John Jones was the village blacksmith when he bought the garage building in 1939 from coal merchant Ted Archer, who had his lorry in the main building and coal in the smaller building next door. Initially Mr Jones serviced motorcycles and bicycles here, later cars and tractors too. Two petrol pumps stood to the left of the main building – look for the two square patches in the concrete plinth beneath the 1953 Coronation memorial bench.
Notice the iron brackets at each end of the garage frontage. A globe advertising Shell Mex petrol hung from each one until the 1970s. They were stolen on the day Mr Jones died, probably by someone who knew the family would be elsewhere that night.
In 2014, his son Hefin recalled receiving – and ignoring – a demand from an official to remove the sign above the door soon after his father’s death, as there was no longer a shoeing smith on the premises. He also remembered an unofficial path around the back of the smithy to the Hand inn, well-trodden by farmhands who were waiting for their employers’ horses to be shod and didn’t want to be seen going for a pint during work hours!
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