Posts Tagged ‘blacksmith’

Bert Burnett’s Golden Wedding

April 14, 2016

Bert or Herbert James Burnett to give him his full name was born in Easterton back in 1895. His father, Henry, was a market gardener at first but by 1911 he had become Easterton’s sub postmaster and the family, including young Bert, lived at the Post Office. By then, Bert was an apprentice blacksmith working just up the street in Easterton at the village forge.

When the Easterton forge closed the equipment was purchased by the Gyes in Market Lavington and they also took on Bert and his brother who was a wheelwright.

He married Elsie Lucas at Potterne Church in the spring of 1922. Although the couple lived in the Potterne area, Bert continued in his Market Lavington blacksmith’s employment.

In later life he and Elsie moved to Southbroom Road in Devizes and it was there they planned to quietly celebrate their Golden Wedding in 1972.


Bert and Elsie Burnett celebrate their Golden Wedding in 1972

It seems other members of the family didn’t go along with the quiet celebration and a family ‘do’ was organised and clearly the local paper reported the event.


Bert is certainly remembered at Market Lavington Museum and has been featured on this blog in the past. You can click here to see Bert at work as a farrier in Market Lavington.


William Merritt

April 20, 2015

This photo of William Merritt comes as a result of the visit of Peter from Leicestershire the other day but it is, actually, a photo that was held in Market Lavington. It shows William Merritt.

William Merritt - 1850 to 1892. Blacksmith of Market Lavington

William Merritt – 1850 to 1892. Blacksmith of Market Lavington

So, once again we look into the Merritt family history.

William was born in 1850 and was the son of John Hampton Merritt and his wife Mary Ann. John was the blacksmith based at Broadwell.

After the 1861 census we lose track of William. Our photo shows a young man in military uniform so perhaps he was overseas. But when we find him on the 1891 census he was married (to a Littleton girl called Elizabeth) and children up to the age of 15 were all shown as born in Market Lavington.

That 1891 census shows William as a blacksmith on White Street. It seems likely he had taken over the premises formerly occupied by his father. It is also probable that the census enumerator made a mistake, for William married Emily Jane Lye in 1874.

William died in 1892 and is buried in the churchyard at Market Lavington. Emily followed him in 1914.

H J Merritt gets paid

October 5, 2014

This is another bill paid by Holloway of West Lavington. As is often the case, the bill provides an insight into life in times past – in this case almost 100 years ago.

1918 bill issued by H J Merritt of Market Lavington

1918 bill issued by H J Merritt of Market Lavington

H J (Henry) Merritt was very much the blacksmith and farrier. It was his brother who was more involved with the cycle business. This receipted bill was for horse shoes. In January and February, Mr Holloway had to pay extra for shoes with ‘frost studs’. We assume this was something to make sure horses did not slip on icy roads. By the end of March ordinary shoes were used.

But in this case what we really like about this bill is the sponsor with the advert at the top. Before electricity came to places then oil for lamps was a much wanted commodity and in the advert we see what appears to be a comfortable and reasonably well to do gentleman reading his paper under an oil lamp which is burning ‘Pure Oil’ – the ‘Finest American Lamp Oil’.

These days we just assume we flick a switch when we want light. There are still people alive locally who remember those pre-electricity days.


Merritt Brothers – Farriers

September 15, 2014

Today we show another of our receipts kept by Holloways of West Lavington and now findable at Market Lavington Museum. Today we look at a receipt issued by Merritt Brothers who were farriers and general smiths.

Merritt Brothers receipt from 1924

Merritt Brothers receipt from 1924

We can see that the Merritt brothers were J. H. and T Merritt and each had smithing or farriery qualifications. We can also see that they operated in Cheverell as well as in Market Lavington.

The year for this receipt was 1924 and the Merritts clearly relied on word of mouth for trade. No phone number is given, probably because the blacksmiths didn’t have one at that time.

The Merritts had premises alongside Broadwell which no doubt gave them a plentiful supply of water for quenching red hot iron.

It looks as though it was quite expensive for Mr Holloway to keep his horses shod. We don’t have any farriers at the museum but we think that most of the work done had been ‘removes’ and ‘shoes’. Removes have been charged at 1/1½ each and shoes at twice that – 2/3. In decimal money this equates to about 6p for removes and 12p for shoes. But of course this was in 1924 and the equivalent cost today would be about £9 for removes and double that for shoes.

Mr Holloway spent £6-15-0 (£6.75) in this quarter. That’s about £1000 at today’s rates.

We love these receipts at the museum. They provide a link to past times, to businesses long gone and to skills no longer practised in the village.

John Merritt Senior

March 25, 2014

There was a time when the name John Merritt meant only one person – the leader of Market Lavington Prize Band for 60 years or more from the nineteenth century and through to the middle of the twentieth century – long enough, in fact, to appear on an ITV show on the telly, with Wilfred Pickles. But that John Hampton Merritt had a father who was also called John Hampton Merrit and it is him we look at today, starting with our photo which was taken in the 1890s.

John Hampton Merritt (1842-1912) A Market Lavington blacksmith

John Hampton Merritt
A Market Lavington blacksmith

This handsome looking gentleman was a blacksmith with premises on the edge of Broadwell in Market Lavington. This Mr Merritt was born in about 1842. We think his father was another John Hampton Merritt. By the time of the 1861 census our ‘J H’ was living with his parents at Broadwell and he had followed his father into the blacksmithing business.

By 1871, John was married to Mary and they had three children including the next John Hampton. The family – quite an extended one – lived on White Street to run the blacksmithing business.

At the time of the 1881 census John was a master blacksmith, living on White Street with wife and eight children and employing a worker to help him in the business.

In 1891 there were fewer children still at the White Street home and no mention of employing anybody. Interesting to note that his 12 year old daughter was a teacher!

In 1901 John said he was 60 and he was still a blacksmith, still on White Street and we learn, again, that he was an employer. He was still at work in 1911 – this time he seems to have his age right again at aged 69 and he has a granddaughter visiting from London.

John died in 1912 and is buried in the churchyard at Market Lavington.

Our Henry Cooper

March 9, 2013

Today we are going to look at another of the lads from the 1919 football team we saw the other day. His name is Henry Cooper, not to be confused with his ‘slapping it on’ and much more famous boxing namesake. To avoid confusion I’ll call our footballing chap Harry for that was what he was usually called.

Henry Cooper of Market Lavington1899 - 1968

Henry Cooper of Market Lavington
1899 – 1968

This is Harry who was aged about 19 or 20 when the photo was taken.

He was born in 1899 and was given an age of 1½ on the 1901 census. His parents were John and Elizabeth – both Market Lavington born. John was listed as a blacksmith and our Harry was the middle of three children born to the couple. The family lived in Market Place in Market Lavington.

Harry, had he been of a mind to, could have traced his Market Lavington ancestry back for generations. Father and Grandfather Cooper were Market Lavington born. Harry’s mother had been Elizabeth Hoare and she certainly had grandparents born in Market Lavington. She was with them at the time of the 1881 census.

In 1911 a bigger Cooper family still lived in Market Place. John was now listed as an agricultural engineer. Harry, aged 11 was a scholar. He was now the second of seven children at home with the parents. This census tells us that in 14 years of marriage John and Elizabeth had produced seven children and all were still alive.

In 1924 Harry married Edith Burt – another name with a good local provenance. We think she was actually a Devizes girl.

The 1926 electoral roll suggests that Harry was still at home with parents, in Market Place. Edith is not listed on this roll. She was under 30 and at that time only women over 30 could vote.

However, she is listed on the 1939 roll. She and Harry were at 9 Market Place. John, Harry’s father, was at number 3.

We believe that Harry and Edith had three children, Sylvia, Ivor and Honor.

By 1964 the old houses in the Market Place had been demolished. Henry and Edith lived on Northbrook, according to the electoral roll. We would now say that their house was on Northbrook Close.

Henry died in 1968. His address given as 2 Northbrook Close. Edith died in hospital in Devizes in 1984. Both are buried in St Mary’s churchyard.


April 5, 2012

It’s just one of those matters of fact. Without the water supply at Broadwell there just wouldn’t be a Market Lavington. In the days before piped water, this was where many villagers came, with buckets or bowsers, to collect the vital liquid.

By the mid 1960s, the need for drinking water from Broadwell had gone. But it still provided other functions. In this picture, the cars are there for their Sunday wash.

Broadwell, Market Lavington, as seen from Beech House in the mid 1960s

The car in the middle, with a man working on the passenger side door looks to be a Mark 1 Ford Cortina. It is a D registered car meaning it hit the road in 1964. The car on the right, with a women at the back of it is an older style Ford Anglia, probably dating from the 1950s or early 1960s. On the left we can see a part of a Mini – the iconic car of the early 60s. In front of that is an older, ‘sit up and beg’ black car.

This photo is taken from a Beech House window. White Street is running from left to right across the picture. The large house at the top of the picture is Knap Farmhouse.

The single storey building, just across the water from the cars was once the smithy operated by the Merritt family. That building and the ugly black sheds have all gone. The house called Old Forge stands there now.

To the left of the cars there is a small wooded area. The trees were deemed unsafe and felled. The young children’s play area is now sited there.

The Easterton Smithy

March 20, 2012

A rather battered photo of the smithy at Easterton got a mention on these pages when we did a piece about Bert Burnett. (Click here).

Today we’ll take a look at that photo.

The Easterton Smithy. Three smiths stand outside the forge on High Street, Easterton, Wiltshire.

This has the hallmarks of an Alf Burgess photo so it probably dates from before 1918, when Alf died. However, his sons, who learned the business from him, may have taken on board many of Alf’s styles.

Our copy of this postcard is battered. There’s a chunk missing at bottom right – this photo makes it look as though a stream runs under the smithy – but that is just the background, behind the photo. There’s a corner gone from the bottom left as well.

But despite these faults it is a delightful, period photo with the three blacksmiths, tools in hand, standing outside the single storey thatched blacksmiths’ shop with the lovely thatched cottages beyond. Easterton High Street is in the foreground. To the left you’d be heading towards Urchfont and to the right towards Market Lavington.

The close up on smiths and smithy is not all that clear. The photo can be seen at Market Lavington Museum

Unfortunately, our original picture is not sharp enough to see who the smiths were. We expect one of them is Bert Burnett.

The smithy closed at a time of agricultural depression and when motor vehicles were beginning to make their mark on rural life. However, the Gyes of Market Lavington saw a future and bought the equipment and set up a smithy at their White Street, Market Lavington premises. And as we know they also took on young Bert Burnett, who became a highly respected smith and farrier.

Bert Burnett

March 25, 2011

Bert Burnett - Easterton and Market Lavington Blacksmith

Bert Burnett became the blacksmith and Farrier working for The Gye family on White Street in Market Lavington. But Bert was Easterton born and spent his early working life there.

We have already seen Bert (Herbert was his full name and he was born in about 1895) as a young lad in an Easterton School photo and as a young man in a Burnett family portrait photo. Now we’ll look at his working life.

Bert became a blacksmith. The 1911 census lists him as such, living in Easterton.

A rather battered photo we have at Market Lavington Museum shows the Easterton smithy, and possibly has Bert in the picture.

When the Easterton smithy closed, the Gyes, in Market Lavington decided to set up their own blacksmith’s shop. They bought the equipment and transported it to Market Lavington. They also employed young Bert as their smith.

Apparently he was a superb craftsman and other blacksmiths in the area lost a lot of trade to the new smithy.

Our pictures show Bert shoeing a horse, probably in the 1930s

Bert Burnett shoeing a horse

Bert Burnett, blacksmith and farrier - a photo at Market Lavington Museum

Herbert married Elsie Lucas in 1922. In 1926 the couple lived on High Street in Market Lavington. Later they lived at Frieth on the northern edge of the parish.

Two children are known to have been born to the couple – Norman and Elsie

Bert died in 1976.