BLACKSMITH Thomas Roberts- Jones is forging ahead after turning back time at an ancient village smithy.
Thomas is the fifth generation of his family still working as a blacksmith, so who better to fire up a long-neglected furnace and breathe new life into the historic smithy at Dunham Hill?
Thomas is researching the history of the place which he believes is listed in the Domesday Book .
After transferring his workshop from Chester this month he has flung open the doors, firing the furnace and forging hot metal on the anvil in full view of passers-by – and welcoming villagers have told him the old smithy now “looks, sounds and smells like it used to”.
Thomas, 45, who lives in Upton, Chester, can trace his paternal family history in the trade back to his great-great-grandfather. He served his apprenticeship with his father, Tom Jones, 78, who is now retired.
During the 1980s father and son worked together from the smithy opposite the Black Dog in Waverton, and they were blacksmiths for the Duke of Westminster’s estate.
However, business began to flag and Thomas took a job as a postman and then became a white-collar worker in sales before returning to his time-served trade in 1993 and starting his own blacksmith business in Chester
“I decided I wanted to go back to what I really knew,” said Thomas, who has built a reputation for fine craftsmanship.
Specialising in hand-forged bespoke products – ranging from hanging basket brackets and wrought-iron gates to home and garden furniture, gates and signs for home and business – as well as general fabrication, he is particularly proud of the public artwork in Kingsway, Chester, Children at Play, which the city council commissioned him to create.
“Moving here has definitely relit my fire for the job!” he added.
Thomas is training his long-time friend and new business partner, Roger Dutton, as a blacksmith.
Thomas said: “I was so pleased to get this place, it’s just steeped in history. My dad came the other day and he said it was perfect.”
Thomas and Roger are planning to hold an open day at the smithy in February. Contact 01928 725777.