THE FORGE, OLD TOWN STREET
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.