Business celebrated forging links for 125 years

PUBLISHED: 17:00 15 August 2015

Julian Rowe of Gittisham Forge with his sons Alex and Robert celebrating 125 years of trading. Ref mhh 1951-32-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife

Julian Rowe of Gittisham Forge with his sons Alex and Robert celebrating 125 years of trading. Ref mhh 1951-32-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife

Archant

Gittisham Forge, run by blacksmith Julian Rowe, has reached its 125th year since it was founded in the late 1800s.

Honiton Show was held for the 125th time last week – but another local anniversary was also celebrated.

Gittisham Forge, run by blacksmith Julian Rowe, has reached its 125th year since it was founded in the late 1800s.

Julian, who has lived in East Devon all of his life, took his inspiration from his father, Arthur, and is hoping that his two sons, 16-year-old Alex and Robert, 12, will one day take the reins to keep the family business running.

“Alex has just left school,” Julian said.

“He is doing an apprenticeship with me and going to college, and is going in the direction of getting more advanced.

“He is aiming to bring modern technology to the business – it has been quite exciting.

“Alex is doing programming to be able to profile and design projects, it’s all very clever.”

Gittisham Forge has been run by five generations of the Rowe family and possesses a rich and colourful history.

Julian’s grandfather, Arthur James, first used to travel around the local area in 1810 fitting shoes to horses.

The business was profitable, as the majority of people travelled by horse and cart.

However, once the first car was developed and then mass produced, shortly followed by the tractor, Arthur had to diversify his business.

Then World War One hit the UK, and a lot of people ended up having their front railings cut down to make ammunition.

Unperturbed by the risk his business was facing, Arthur found it back on the up when, after the war, there was a strong demand for front garden rails.

Years later, in the 1950s, Julian’s father continued the family business by making a living from general iron work as a blacksmith. And for Julian, today’s business is no different.

“From the ’80s to now, we are doing blacksmithing,” he said. “I used to help my father and both sons liked helping me when they were young. I had lots of lovely comments at the show, and they made me very proud. One gentleman commented on what a sight it was to see my sons keeping the tradition up.”

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