Iron men left their mark on business

In the third and final part of this series on blacksmiths, historian David Kenyon continues to look at the Taylors of Green Smithy.

Thursday, 24th January 2019, 11:04 am
Updated Thursday, 24th January 2019, 11:08 am
Blacksmith: Mr Robert Taylor the third generation of the Taylor family at his home at Green Smithy in 1957. The design of the gate made by Mr Taylor includes the name of the hamlets, his initials and two symbols of his craft-a horse -shoe and the outline of an anvil.

Robert Taylor was the third generation of Taylors who were blacksmiths at Green Smithy, in Bentham.

The fourth generation Denis, Bryan and Frank were three of Robert’s sons.

The Taylors from Green Smithy visit Halsteads Farm, Dalehead, near Slaidburn in the 1940s to shoe horses. From left: Annie Wallbank, Grace Carr, Allan Carr, Robert Taylor senior (blacksmith), Alwyne Wallbank, Richard Wallbank, not known, Bryan Taylor (son and blacksmith), Ruby Wallbank.

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Local historian David Kenyon explains: “I remember Bryan Taylor telling me that when making hornburn irons, used for the branding of farmers’ initials on to the horns of their sheep, they used iron from old cart axles for the letter end of the irons.

“These old cart axles were made from genuine wrought iron. This iron was much easier to work than modern mild steel.”

The Kirkstall Forge in Leeds was the last ironworks to manufacture wrought iron by the puddling process.

A local farmer, Frank Ibbetson, remembers the name Kirkstall Forge stamped on an old cart axle at High Salter Farm, Roeburndale.

Blacksmith: The inside of the smithy showing Centenary stone 1859-1959- below is the stone celebrating 150 years of Robert Taylor and Sons at Green Smithy. On the sheep horn can seen the hornburn initials of a local farmer.

To test the accuracy of the letters the blacksmith would test the hornburn irons by branding the inside of the smithy door.

Many smithy doors were covered with hundreds of names.

Often it was hard to find a clear space to test the irons.

Robert Taylor’s nephew Carl Taylor remembers the Green Smithy blacksmiths sharpening tools for Lunesdale District Council, then for Lancashire County Council roads and bridges department.

Carl remembers the clouds of smoke when the red hot tools were tempered by dipping them into a trough of oil.

Denis Taylor was a talented engineer. He fitted out many shippons with water bowls and milking pipelines.

The 1950s and 60s were boom time for farmers with grants available from the government for new shippons and dairies.

He also converted cars into tractors.

These were known as car tractors, useful for pulling mowing machines and hay time machinery.

The fitting of small engines on to horse pulled mowing machines was another of Denis’ specialities.

In 1959 Robert Taylor, Carl’s Uncle Bob, made the gates for the drive entrance to Lowgill Church.

This was to celebrate 100 years of the Taylor family working as blacksmiths at Green Smithy.

The gates were paid for by his farmer brother Richard Taylor.

Bryan’s son Ian started work in 1962 as an apprentice blacksmith and agricultural engineer. In the early years Ian went on a blacksmiths course at Melton Mowbray, in Leicestershire.

A close watch was kept on Ian’s progress by the Rural Industrial Training Board.

Ian also went to Lancaster and Morecambe College to study agricultural engineering. He was certainly well trained.

Ian was another Taylor who played cricket for Bentham along with his younger brother Barry.

Another advancement in agricultural machinery was the development of ATVs, ie: all terrain vehicles, around 1970.

These were a wonderful time saver for the farmer.

Robert Taylor and Sons sold these from the 1980s onwards.

The Taylor brothers were excellent at sorting out any problems with these machines.

In 1977 Barry came from Manchester, where he worked as a librarian, to help manage the company accounts.

Bryan Taylor was a leading member of Bentham cricket team for most of his life.

On summer evenings at Green Smithy there was often some cricket practice going on.

Bryan had a good singing voice, often performing at concerts in Bentham and surrounding villages for charity.

In 2009, after 150 years of business, Robert Taylor and Sons spanned six generations, including David Taylor (Denis and Betty’s son) and Paul Taylor (Ian and Kathleen’s son).

Throughout this story of Robert Taylor and Sons, we must not forget the work of the Taylor ladies who assisted with the clerical work and were supportive of the family business over many years.

In 2012 Robert Taylor and Sons, agricultural engineers, was taken over by J D Paxton and Sons Limited of Abbey Road, Pity Me, Durham.

This business had been serving farmers since 1853. They are now carrying on the Taylor tradition of friendly helpful service to their many customers in the Bentham area and beyond.

J D Paxton still continue to sell petrol and diesel from their agricultural workshops at Green Smithy.