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Bob Clark - Blacksmith and Farrier of Chichester

PUBLISHED: 17:03 05 January 2010 | UPDATED: 14:46 20 February 2013

Bob Clark

Bob Clark

Blacksmith and Farrier, 60, Chichester. I still shoe my own horses, but for the last ten years, I have concentrated on being a blacksmith, a trade I got into when I was 15. I was born in Chichester - St Pancras - you can't get more Chi than that!....

Bob Clark - Blacksmith and Farrier, 60, Chichester

I started making balustrades, spiral staircases and the like at Smith and Jewell in Chichester. Then I moved to Selsey and worked in a forge where I met my future wife Linda. She came in to shoe her horses.

We've got two boys. I became self employed when we discovered my younger son's autism. Linda and I shared looking after him for 19 years. He is now at Fordwater, a residential school in Chichester, where his younger brother, a professional clown, has worked as a carer.

I have made some unusual things, lots of weather vanes for churches - just as well I don't mind heights. A year ago, I did a bungee jump off a crane at the Woolpack Pub at Fishbourne to raise money for my son's school. I once had to repair the railings on the roof of the Tolworth Tower. Fifteen odd storeys is a long way down!

The forge is nearly always alight, powered by an air blower and fuelled with coke. I always wear a hat. It's part of my image and surprisingly doesn't make me any hotter. To protect my legs I wear a leather apron. It's mainly for shoeing and has a split between the legs to allow me to bend.

I have burnt myself thousands of times and I use masking tape to cover up the burns. I was once filmed by a television crew and the cameraman's microphone set alight with the heat of the forge.

I once fixed the quadrant of Patrick Moore's telescope and had to wheel it up to his house. That was amusing. I like to listen to music while I am working. Phil Collins asked me to make him three sets of gates.

I was doing some welding in the cattle shed of a farm where there was a prize Hereford bull. The heifers were all sniffing about, but then the bull came a bit too near for comfort. So, I tapped him on the nose with the electric welder and he went down on the ground. I was petrified to think that I might have killed this very expensive bull, but he got up and wandered off.

I have never had a holiday. Occasionally, Linda and I will take a half day off but we are tied to the horses at Rymans Stables where she has a riding school. We like to go to a country pub - one that does a decent bitter. Lunch times I always go round the corner to the Crown and Anchor.

We get up at six every morning and go to the stables to get the horses sorted. Then I cycle to the forge and perhaps sharpen some road drill bits. I do a lot of that sort of work for builders and the like. Back to the stables for breakfast with Linda, then more work at the forge. I finish at 4. It's a long day, but I don't mind.

Interview by Brigit Cunningham Portrait by Kate Eastman


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