Olly has worked with us since the Spring of 2023. He grew up in Colerne, just outside Bath on his family’s farm. After leaving Beechen Cliff School here in Bath he started training as a professional nanny, but quickly decided it wasn’t the right path for him. Olly attended a one-day blacksmithing course with Ian Thackray, exploring working on the forge and was instantly hooked on blacksmithing.
A chance conversation with a friend led Olly down the road from the family farm to the Ironart workshops here in Larkhall. He did a two week work experience trial with us and made a really good impression on the whole team, so he’s here to stay for the foreseeable and we are fast equipping him with hands-on blacksmithing experience and skills.
Olly says: “My week is really varied. Here in the workshop I work with everyone and get involved in everything – right now I’m helping James create details for a big porch. Last week I made round punches on the forge, I’ve been learning and practicing all the basic blacksmithing techniques like drawing down, punching, upsetting and shaping. I’ve worked on some restoration projects alongside Elly, mending antique benches and a bed frame – heating and welding.
My favourite bits? I really enjoy going out on site and fitting alongside Luke, who encourages me to get involved with all aspects of fitting jobs – drilling holes into stone, pouring lead. It’s good fun. But I also really like being on the forge here in the workshop.”
James Cuthbertson – who started as an apprentice with Ironart himself over 10 years ago, is currently mentoring Olly in the workshop. James has broken his hand so Olly is quite literally his ‘right hand man’ at the moment…
James says: “Olly has been a great addition to the team and having grown up on a farm, is naturally very practical. He shows real enthusiasm for blacksmithing and metalwork in general, has been quick to pick up a lot of the fundamental processes and is always eager to help and learn more. He has taken the initiative to acquire a forge and some basic tools to set up a forge at home, so he can practice in his own time.”
We are currently researching and applying for some additional funding for Olly in the hope that we can swiftly progress his traning and apprenticeship here with Ironart. We’d really like to send Olly on National Heritage Ironwork Courses and Conferences, and fund his attendance at other metalworking courses around the UK to learn specialist techniques and skills that we cannot so easily offer here. We’d like to be able to fund his travel and living costs to gain work experience within other respected blacksmith’s forges around the UK.
We will chart his progress and keep you updated here and on our social feeds. Watch this space!