Gestingthorpe man pays homage to five generations of family blacksmith trade with launch of new business
A former factory worker is paying homage to an age-old craft his ancestors continued to master for almost two centuries, with the launch of a new business venture.
Richard Nice’s great-great-grandfather, William, established his own blacksmith business in Gestingthorpe during the 1830s.
The workshop and forge from which he created an extensive range of metal objects has been passed down to Mr Nice’s family through five generations.
Keen to continue his family’s legacy, Mr Nice has decided to trade as a blacksmith from the Church Street site.
“It’s something that I’ve always enjoyed doing,” he said. “I’m a more hands-on type of person, rather than being academic, so I’ve always been interested in making things.”
At the beginning of the Second World War, Mr Nice’s grandfather, Richard, was commissioned by the Ministry of Defence to create horseshoes for mules – the resilient working animals played a crucial role in transporting ammunition and supplies during the conflict.
While growing up, Mr Nice and his younger brother, Peter, lived with their parents, Walter and Daisy, in one of the workshop’s neighbouring cottages.
Mr Nice’s late uncle, Frank, worked at Whitlocks engineering factory in Great Yeldham before he established his own blacksmith business from the family’s workshop.
Having initially focused on lawnmower repairs, Mr Nice’s uncle decided to diversify into blacksmithing after recognising a demand for the rare skill – a craft which earned him a strong reputation in the village.
“As word got around, he seemed to get more and more work,” said Mr Nice, who began honing his own skills as a teenager.
Alongside his full-time job as a machine setter at Sudbury’s Delphi Diesel Systems, Mr Nice created a range of metal work for clients in his spare time.
Having recently been made redundant from the factory in Newton Road, which is set to close this year, the 55-year-old plans to expand his blacksmithing venture.
Projects undertaken by Mr Nice have included restoring and crafting iron fences and gates, along with traditional fireplace tools and household objects, with a range of commemorative horseshoes making a novelty wedding gift.
Once the metal has been forged and engraved, Mr Nice carefully paints the letters.
“It’s time-consuming, but it’s effective,” said the father-of-two.
A couple of years ago, Mr Nice restored the metal railings at Gestingthorpe Hall, which are thought to date back to the 1900s.
For more information on the business, go online to www.gestingthorpeforge.com.
More by this authorPriya Kingsley-Adam
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