volunteers working in museum forge

Blacksmith creates latch for new dairy

Volunteer blacksmith, Nick Wedlock (pictured right), recounts a recent job for the Weald & Downlands Living Museum’s new dairy building:

I was recently asked if it might be possible for me to make a new thumb latch for the dairy building that is being re-erected on the Museum site. It was to be based on the damaged original, and this task is never as straightforward as making something from your imagination. For it to be  accurate to the original you have to keep on going back and measuring and then re-producing these measurements in the new version.


metal latches made in forge for dairy

“This particular job posed a few technical issues for me. As you can see from the photos it has a decorative section in the middle of the handle. This would usually be made using a top and bottom swage (a sort of mould). Since we didn’t have anything suitable in the forge, I needed to find a different technique. What I decided to do was use something called ‘upsetting’. This involves heating the metal quenching it off either side of the piece you want to increase in diameter and then hitting it on the end so increase the diameter. Once this was achieved I filed the profile on. Although this is quite labourious I think the final result was successful. With this successfully achieved, the rest was all really fairly straightforward!


“Jobs like this are one of the reasons I like working in the Forge, you never know what is going to turn up next.”

Come and meet the volunteers who work in the forge, or perhaps you are looking for volunteering opportunities? We offer a fantastic volunteering programme, why not get in touch with our friendly team, for further information, visit our volunteer page or call 01243 811015.