The Forge, Blacksmith and Smithy
N0 23 New Road is the only ‘New Road’ house whose entrance is not on New Road, the entrance is on Main Street. This house had been for the village blacksmith and next to it was a stone-built forge and shoeing room built in matching style to the gothic type houses. The last blacksmith to live in the house and use the forge was Mr Bill Kerridge, his father had also been the village blacksmith until he retired and his son took over. It ceased being used as a forge some time before 1924 and was subsequently used by Berkshire Council as a storage shed for tools and repair equipment and commonly referred to as ‘the Council shed’. It has since been converted to a dwelling ‘Forge Cottage’.
Mr Charlie Browning, who lived at 32 New Road (and later in the cottage by the Ock), was an ex-army blacksmith and operated a smithy from a large shed adjoining and in the grounds of The Chequers Inn. With the coming of the Fordson tractors there were fewer horses to shoe and the blacksmith business began to die. The shed was converted into the Pamela Spiessens Academy of Dance and later into a bungalow (in the late 1990s?) called ‘The Old Smithy’. Charlie left the Smithy next to The Chequers, but did carry on his blacksmith trade for a while in a forge next to 14 Charney (Brook Cottage).
[Principal source Maud Ody, The Length of the Road P48-49, 86, also A Charney Lad, Bill Clarke P18]