Blacksmithy, Ashfield Road

"Blackbourn Iron Works"

Map Location n19

In 1841 blacksmith William Spencer carried on a business in premises ("house, shop, barn, etc") in Green Road then owned by Jane Smith. The date 1847 appears on a 1913 advertisement of F J Nunn's - perhaps he had evidence that this forge was built at that time?
A sale of Smith (Smyth) family assets in 1848 included as Lot 24 this "Exceedingly Desirable Property", still occupied by Spencer.
Spencer does not appear in the 1851 census, but it is just possible that a Morley family was there then. Walter George Morley is described as "iron founder & machine maker" in the 1851 directory.
In 1861 we see both William Spencer (78), Blacksmith, and, as a separate adjacent household in Ashfield Road, Walter George Morley (37), Blacksmith & Iron founder; it seems likely, given the age difference, that there was just the one smithy.
Neither of the above appear in the 1864 and 1865 directories, but a Nathan Warren (not the woodman of the 1844 directory) is listed as blacksmith. He missed the 1871 census (perhaps he did not live at the smithy) but is there again in the 1874 directory, and in October 1876 we can see [conveyance] that he purchased a blacksmiths shop and premises from John Lawton, Esq. for 470.
From an account rendered to a Mr Sparkes of Bury it can be seen that in 1887 he gained silver medals for his Self-Feeding Lamb Trough, and he built up quite a reputation for ploughs and all manner of farm implements [1888 patent].
Nathan Warren appears in the 1881 census as 51 years of age, a Blacksmith & Wheelwright employing 7 men and a boy, married to Louisa; they have 3 sons, the eldest two also being blacksmiths, and a daughter.
From the vestry minutes we see Nathan on the Parish Council from 1883 and serving as churchwarden in 1900. His last directory appearance was in 1908, he year he died. The business was bought by Frank Nunn in 1909 [letter to customers]. The story continues on the F J Nunn & Sons page.....

In 1930 Nunns demolished the old thatched cottage, Blackbourn House, to make way for a new steel-framed building. In 1946 the declining need for blacksmiths caused the F J Nunn company to demolish also the old forges, replacing the Victorian smithy with new buildings.


1. Ashfield Road Smithy .. Full size


2. Artist's impression of Blackbourn House and Iron Works around 1900. Full size

3. Nathan Warren, seated outside Blackbourn House, which was just to the north of the works. Full sizeWith thanks to Peter Nunn
4. The Warren Improved Steerage Horse Hoe Full size

Ella Kinsey: The Warren family had the blacksmith's shop, now part of Thurlow Nunn's place; it was a very busy place, a thriving horseshoeing business, and also made farm implements such as hand ploughs (no combine harvesters then). Nathan Warren had a big beard; he invented a seed drill which became popular in other counties. His several sons all took part in the business, some travelling/selling. The Warrens all stayed till they died, but most of the sons died rather young; in the cemetery they are buried next to Ella's family.