Museum Musings- A QDHMS series published in the Queanbeyan Age
One of the treasures of the Queanbeyan Museum is a Blacksmith Shop, from about 1900. It is a slab structure, with later repairs to the walls and installation of a new corrugated iron roof made by QDHMS. It contains tools of the smith’s trade including: bellows, forge, and hand made tools, donated by Keith Pollard (1924-2007). Donation of an anvil came from the James Francis Denny collection and the farrier’s clamp from Philip Cancillier.
The Pollard family are graziers in the Michelago district, near Queanbeyan. The Museum’s blacksmith shop came from their property Tinderry Vale. It is believed the structure was on the property when purchased from the Egan family, who originally settled the property in 1863. Two bachelor brothers, Dave and Tom were the last of the Egans and they could have built the smithy.
The Work of the Blacksmith
These were the days when useful items had to be made by hand. The smith created items from iron or steel by forging the metal, which was heated until it glowed red, then orange, yellow and white would be the hottest. The ideal heat for forging is a bright yellow orange colour. The smithy worked in dim conditions so he could judge the right colour of the metal. In order to get the heat required to forge iron a large bellows was used to blow a stream of air over the bed of charcoal or coke in the forge to make it burn faster. Tools were used to hammer, bend, cut and shape objects against the anvil to produce items such as horseshoes, farm tools, nails, latches, hinges, hammers, axes, chisels, fitted iron tires and hub rings for carts.
The advent of the motor car, tractors and manufactured goods spelt the end of the usefulness of the blacksmith shop.