This page is now just for historical information. Poringland & District Men’s Shed no longer has any connection with this property.
Brooke Blacksmith . There has been a working Blacksmiths in Brooke for over 250 years.The building of this Smithy can be seen on the 1801 enclosure map. The present forge in High Green opposite the school was built in 1872. A feature peculiar to Smithys is the line of ridge tiles raised to let out the heat and smoke. The forge has been used for storage for many years but is now the home of the Poringland & District Men’s Shed.
The village’s last Blacksmith, John Cossey was born in 1918 and lived in School Cottage for a while. His father was a plumber, decorator and well sinker.John Cossey left school at 14 and became apprenticed to the blacksmith at 30 pence per week; work was mostly repairing farm machinery, bicycles, etc. In 1935 aged 17 John Cossey took on the Smithy and became his own boss. He made ovens for village cottages, and as farming was in decline he branched out into shoeing horses etc. He gave up in 1978 when a government edict demanded he should go on a course “to learn” to be a smith, and register as such. He was insulted!
This photograph is believed to have been taken in the 1970’s. The building is still very recognisable today.
Carolyn Moar came to the Shed last Saturday with some Forge history for us – she had met MENS SHED at the South Norfolk Show.
Carolyn worked for Major Derek Allhusen of Claxton Manor, as did Mr John Cossey as his farrier – the last blacksmith at the Forge. He was always known as ‘Mister’ never by his first name. The date that Mr Cossey started working at the Manor is not known but in the late 1960’s and through the 70’s he was the only farrier to work on the famous Olympic Event Horses owned by the Major, and therefore was farrier to the most famous Eventing horses in England. He was a most trusted farrier and had the responsibility to keep the horses hooves in top condition – he trimmed the hooves and made the shoes for all of the 35 horses and ponies owned by the Major and was expert in making corrective shoes to correct any faults in the gait of any horse. The Major provided Mr Cossey with a Forge at the Manor, as he was often working all day, twice a week – solely on the Majors horses.
Major Allhusen, as an Olympic Gold Medal winner, was a celebrity of his day. He won his gold medal as a member of the GB Eventing team at the 1968 Mexico games, on his horse Lochinvar. He and Lochinvar also won an individual silver medal.
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In 1972, at the Munich Olympics Three Day Event, the Majors horse Laurieston, ridden by Richard Mead, won both individual and GB team gold medals.
The Major and his horses would frequently take part in the horse events at the big Norfolk county shows.
As a very minor aside – during 1962 our Chairman Henry Gowman, served in the Royal Navy on a Coastal Minesweeper HMS Yarnton, based at a shore support HQ named HMS Lochinvar at South Queensferry on The Firth of Forth near Edinburgh, and remembers making the connection between the famous horse and his old haunt.