The Blacksmiths of Foxhole




At the back of the Adulam chapel was a place called ‘Lydraw’, of about twenty houses, there was a blacksmith’s, and Wheelwright’s shop, and worked by a Mr. Jackett and his two sons. What a busy place in the shop, two blacksmiths, Jackett and his son, making and shoeing horses, the wheelwrights making carts, very heavy type for the haulage of coal from the pits to the works and for quarry work, which had to be very strong, they worked long hours, you would never pass without seeing about six horses outside waiting to be shod, and the price at that time was three & six to four shillings for the very heavy horses, three shillings for ponies etc. I have a vivid memory of Jacketts son shoeing a horse belonging to Messrs. Beddoes the colliery owners, a big cart horse, hauling coal from the yard to the works. Most amazing, he was driven by a very little man, who was once a jockey they called him Harry ‘bach’. This horse was the most bad tempered animal I ever saw, and the performance started as soon as he entered the smithy. Nothing would sooth him Harry coaxing him and the smith trying to get his leg up to take the old shoes off. He was vicious he would let out a kick if it caught the smith it would have killed him. Now a twitch would be put on his lip, this was a spoke of a wheel with a hole in the end with a piece of leather like a loop. After getting this loop on his lip you would twist it, which caused the animal pain and thrusting his head up. It would give the smith a chance to get his leg on his hip, to fit the new shoe on, whilst in a stooping position getting on with the job, he would let out a vicious kick and the smith would be on the floor. He would get up and try again, this would go on for at least an hour. The two smiths now doing their best to him, when he was finished with the new set they were completely exhausted and would have a sit down outside, this performance would start again in about three weeks to a month, that was the usual time a set of shoes would last. I often asked the smith why he did not refuse to shoe him. He made the remark, no horse born would be brought to his smithy and go out unshod. If any tradesman earned his wages Jacketts did.