Research into the history of this blacksmith’s forge has indicated that a forge existed on the site in about 1750, however records and the current building suggest it was built around 1800. The section of the building which encompasses the forge is probably the oldest, and has a pantile roof.
The two-floor store to the left of the building was added at a later date, and was likely to have been occupied by the blacksmith’s apprentice. This new structure was part-built over the original footings, but also extended over the masonry stones which made the river wall. Some of these stones are ‘dressed’, or decorated, and likely to have come from Spalding Priory which was demolished after the Reformation. On the other side of the forge area is a shoeing shed, with space for a couple of horses, next to what is now a holiday cottage.
We know that there were originally two forges in the workshop, but one was removed in the 1950’s when demand for their skills fell into decline. The floor of the forge was originally a mixture of wooden boards, and stone slabs which were set around areas such as the benches and anvil, to reduce the risk of fire where the hot metal was worked. Much of the wooden floor has worn away, some of it was replaced with concrete in the twentieth century, as and when it fell into disrepair. Today we have replicated the wooden floor to improve the accessibility.
To read the full archaeological report click on APS Archaeological Report
The original Chain Bridge after which the Forge was named was situated on the river bank just a few yards south of the Forge building – roughly in the same position where Albert Bridge now stands. Watercolours by Hilkiah Burgess in the Spalding Gentlemen’s Society collection idicate that it was a draw bridge, designed to enable boats and barges to navigate up the Welland to reach Spalding Port.