Mr. Laing – from 1806 Mr. David McAndrew – from 1860 Mr. Jim MacDonald – from 1936 Mr. John MacDonald (son) – ? Mr. Brian Patrick – from 1971.
Mr. Laing, First blacksmith in Nethy Bridge and probable builder of the Smithy. Mr. David McAndrew Arrived in Nethy Bridge from the Rothes area in 1860. He planted an acorn at the north east corner of the Smithy, at which point now stands a large Oak tree. Buried in Abernethy Old Kirk graveyard.
Mr. Jim MacDonald. His name is written in the cement in the north outside wall. A blacksmith by trade and reputedly a good engineer. The following information is kindly provided by Mr J McDonald, the eldest son of Jim Macdonald and elder brother of John P.Macdonald: ‘My father served his apprentiship with his father, the blacksmith for Lord Lovat at Kiltarlity Beauly but after serving as a Motor Mechanic (SGT) in France during the 1914-1918 War, he had several occupations including partnership in a garage and prior to the 1930’s slump a Locomotive Maintenance Engineer.
When he once again became a blacksmith in Nethy Bridge, where incidentally his mother was born at The Ellon in The Braes of Abernethy. He had an old pre-war Sunbeam motor car which belonged to MacAulay Lettoch but had over wintered without anti-freeze, if such a thing existed then! The result was a split cylinder block. My father showed me ways of repairing the block which we did successfully. That particular engine did not have a fan but depended on passage through the air to keep it cool. As a stationary engine it was just a play-thing for me and was never used to drive any machinery’.
Village blacksmith shop – 1806 – 1971. Holiday accomodation – 1974 – present. See the Speyside Cottages website.
Built in 1806
Located on The Causer
One of the services he provided to the village was charging the wet batteries for home wirelesses. He was also an agent for the farm equipment supplier, ‘Ferris’, based in Inverness.
Mr. John MacDonald (died 1968) The last blacksmith in Nethy Bridge, son of Jim MacDonald, the previous owner. He introduced electric welding and produced a variety of wrought iron goods. He set up his welding shop in the west end of the building.
The Old Smithy in 2005 Mr. Brian Patrick. Mr Patrick bought the building and surrounding plot from Revack (Seafield) estate in 1971 for GBP 1100. On receipt of planning permission two years later, two bungalows were built on the land and the Forge itself was used as a store. By 1976, the Forge had been renovated to receive holiday guests.
The Old Smithy in 1971. Stone tyring plates visible in the garden Agricultural Work The smithy and blacksmith would have been vital to a small rural community such as Nethy Bridge. Work would have included maintaining farm and forestry tools and shoeing horses. As the Industrial Revolution progressed, horses were superseded by machinery – thus shoeing work gave way to engineering and welding work. Horse shoeing, however, was required during World War 2, during which (Newfoundland) foresters working for the war effort regularly brought their horses to the Forge. The horses would have been used for dragging timber during harvesting. There is a trace of a ford in the river below the Smithy, which may well have been used by horses throughout the 19th Century.
Supporting base of Jim MacDonalds car engine forms the present garden table. Planning permission required sensitive development of the site and considerable effort was made to preserve the original identity of the main Forge building during its renovation.
Walls. Original building rectangular (44ft x 14ft) with small extension on west wall (shown on 1871 and 1900 OS maps). Walls built of rubble blocks, mainly granite, 2-2.5ft thick with foundation stones visible at ground level. May also have included clay and turf / timber near the top. Wall later extended upwards with concrete and wood / metal panelling (now covered with harling). Jim MacDonald made several structural changes during the mid 1900s, including a door and tall window into the welding workshop, shop window, large corrugated iron extension and fuel store. His son later built an internal timber partition wall to separate the workshop.
Since 1971 a concrete extension, faced with rubble, replaced the old corrugated iron extension. Floor Pre 1870 – probably all earth and/or cobbles (for horse access). By 1971 – part earth and part concrete. Renovated. Roof Originally thatched, perhaps covered with clay to prevent fire. Possibly replaced with corrugated iron during mid 1800s. Corrugated asbestos cement sheeting by 1971. Replaced with modern concrete tiles. Two large internal stone forges with chimneys – one remaining.
M. O’Reilly Explore Abernethy Visitor Centre
Patrick, B (2005) Speyside Cottages website
Nethy Bridge Community Centre
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