Bob Burton lives in the Black Country, a name given in the mid 1800’s to the industrial region located in the midlands of England. As the industrial revolution gained full momentum the area was considered the ‘workshop of the world’. The name is derived from the smoke of many thousands of ironworking foundries and forges. There would also have been local cottage industries manufacturing nails in the area. Bob gives us a reminder of our industrial past.
BOB SAYS: “My nephew and brother-in-law have recently moved into ‘Nailers’ Cottages’ and I have helped both of them with a bit of gardening. I have also supplied them with metalwork such as horseshoes, buckles, flagons and bottles for external decoration.”
“When I found an old nail whilst detecting it got me thinking just a little differently about nails and the life of the local nailer. The hand-made nail shown above has a square shank and dates to before 1800. I understand that nails with rectangular shanks are Victorian.”
This nail shop can be seen at the Black Country Living Museum and is reproduced with permission. Originally there were four nailers, two to each hearth, but as trade declined two of the nailers were removed, and an anvil was put in so that general smithing could be done.
Nail making was well established in and around the Black Country by the middle ages, and at its peak in about 1820 there were over 50,000 nailers at work. And here’s a piece of interesting information – the nailers worked for middlemen known as FOGGERS.
NEXT TIME BOB WILL TELL YOU ABOUT FINDING HIS UNIQUE HOARD.