In the 19th century the old Town Street area of Dawlish was at the heart of a thriving trade and commercial area, serving the local population and farming community. Many blacksmiths were recorded as working in the town – 6 around 1850. Trade would have been brisk as travel then was limited to horse or foot, at least until the arrival of the railway in Dawlish in 1846.

Samuel Jewell was blacksmith at The Forge at this time (Charles Jewell was another local blacksmith). Interestingly, from around 1852 Samuel Jewell also ran The Red Lion public house opposite the Forge, the tenancy being taken over by his widow from March 1861 – January 1862. (Red Lion Court was built in 1991 where the pub had formerly stood).

The Forge operated up until the 1960’s and was run then by the Penaligon family, brothers Harry and Alfred, and their father before them. Harry Penaligon used to shoe horses for farmers who attended a monthly cattle market held near St Agatha’s RC Church at Elm Grove (Road), Dawlish. The horses were left at The Forge and would be delivered back to their owners by the blacksmith or his assistant.

Other work was obtained from shoeing horses taking part in local race meetings held at Elm Grove.

As mechanised transport took over from horses, blacksmiths had to diversify. Reginald Penaligon, the last of the family at The Forge, ran a cycle and pram business there in the 1960’s, which is still remembered by some older Dawlish residents.

Dawlish Museum now houses some of the blacksmiths’ tools of trade, including an anvil.