Ronald blythe

The revival of the blacksmith’s craft — a new generation goes at it hammer and tongs

At Intelligent Life, the Economist magazine where I worked for some years, it was easy to feel intellectually challenged. Even the interns all seemed to have Oxbridge Firsts. What a breath of fresh air, then, when the deputy editor’s son decided he didn’t want to go to university, and would instead apprentice as a blacksmith. During the industrial revolution, Alex Pole tells us in this eccentric and enchanting book, there were 25,000 smiths working in the UK. Now, there are fewer than 2,000. As Ronald Blythe noted more than 50 years ago in Akenfield, far more villages have a cottage called The Olde Forge than a blacksmith. But numbers are