One of my passions around blacksmithing is looking back to the old way things were done. Why is that? Well apart from having a strong appreciation for old technologies, as a very young boy I grew up between two blacksmith shops. One was completely old school. He had no electric tools, in fact I don't think his shop had electric. The other was a blacksmith and fabricator. He knew the old ways but had electric and welders etc. I was fascinated by the skill of both and while their lives closed and mine moved on, I was always appreciative of my time at their blacksmith shops.
On this page I want to just collect photos of old gates and works that have been build in the traditional way or any old photos I find that keeps alive some of the old timers and their works. I hope you enjoy this page and the walk back in time.
Ok, first up is this wee gem of a gate/style hidden away on the side of the railway between Poyntzpass and Scarva on the Tandragee road. It is call a "kissing Gate," and as you can see from these photos it really works. The idea is as two people come into the gate, as they walk around the style they will be facing each other, so a sneaky kiss could be had. I wish I had known about kissing gate when I was in my teens and twenties. Anyway, now you know, go find one and see if it works for you and your sweetheart.
What really interests me now as an older man is the way this gate/style is made. All the joints are forged by the blacksmith, which basically means; fire, anvil, hammer. No modern tools. Holes punched or drifted, shoulder hammered and filed into shape and riveting. Hard hot work, but one thing is for sure, it's a testament to good old technology.
This lovely old gate sits alone and forgotten on the old road from Loughbrickland to Banbridge. It is sad to see such a well made gate in this condition and not in use. Very little effort would restore this gate to its full glory and keep the skill and history alive. Again everything is punched, drifted, riveted and the cross rails have had shoulders hammered into place to make a good mortise and tenon joint that has stood the test of time. If you know the walk around the estate in Loughbrickland through the wee forest and up the road just as you come out of the village, then you will have pass this gate either from the walk side or the road. Go see it, the winter is best so the weeds are down. I may make enquires about this gate, who made it and would they part with it so I could restore it.
One of these gate is just up the road I live on near Rathfriland. Again another old school technology style gate. The other two photos are the same gate. Do you recognise it? I'll give you a clue, if you have every travelled form Bryanford to Newcastle Co. Down then you will have passed this gate near a much coveted old barn.
Ok, who recognises this gate? It is in the top car park in Tollymore Forest Park. It is just sitting rotting away. Now what if all of us were to say to the forest park Rangers that we would like to see this amazing gate restored in a traditional fashion and given new purpose. Look closely at the joint on this gate and the shoulders that make them strong and help keep the gate square too.
Story to follow soon....