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My first experience of blacksmithing was when I was about 13.
In my second year at secondary school I started doing metalwork as part of the curriculum. We had a comprehensive workshop in the school with lathe’s, milling machines, shapers, pillar drills and a forge, along with all the other equipment needed to do the various projects on the syllabus. This was always going to be exciting! ...
Two weeks ago I attended a meeting of business people from the Sheffield area to hear about the progress of The Northern Powerhouse project.
It occurred to me that the North of England has been undergoing a steady decline over the last 40 years. When I was starting my career in 1970 the North of England was a thriving economic area with high levels of employment ...
I love it when we get asked to do something a bit special or ‘out of the ordinary’ !
We enjoy our day to day work here at Bullhouse Mill, but just occasionally we are approached to do something a little bit different. Late last year, Dr. John Tanner of Barnsley Museums contacted us about the mysterious cannons of Cannon Hall.
Recent news once again casts a dark shadow over our manufacturing industry. The loss of yet more jobs within our steel industry is another blow to our great heritage. Nationwide around 1200 steel workers will hear that they will lose their jobs and face an uncertain future for them and their families.
Elizabeth works very hard helping to run Nigel Tyas Ironwork, but it has to be admitted that she is prone to sneaking out of the office and coming to work with me at Rose Cottage instead – where she designs most of the inscriptions on my sculptures. Here is her work on the Thurlstone War memorial in 2013.
Nigel has been working on some new designs in the forge recently and we thought it important to let you know that whilst our traditional designs do look, well – traditional – they are modern in that they can all be used with LED light bulbs.
Energy efficient lighting – LED light bulbs operate at around 80% efficiency, compared to standard bulbs that are only 20% efficient. These huge power savings lead to massive reductions in your electricity bills.
I first met Nigel Tyas and his wife Elizabeth in 2005. I had wanted to buy some wrought iron fencing for my garden, and a friend advised me to go and see them at their Bullhouse Mill forge. The last time I had visited the mill was in 1978 when I was working as a shepherd on a neighbouring farm, and the mill supplied my employer’s farm with cattle-feed and fertiliser.
At that time, the ancient water-powered corn-mill was still milling corn, as it had been doing for centuries, but by then, more modern machinery was powered by electricity instead of by the waters of the River Don.
Spring is coming and the grass is just starting to grow a bit in our little field, but there is still not enough to feed our small flock – so we bring them into their little barn and feed them hay every night.
Ten days ago, the sheep were behaving strangely when I went to see them in the afternoon. They were very nervous and ran to me at the bottom of the field. Woolly, usually the first to come, wouldn’t let me touch her.
2014 was a sad year for us at Bullhouse Mill. A year ago today, Andre Werra, the best man at our wedding in 2002, died of a brain tumour, leaving his partner Sue, his sons Andrew and Leon, daughter-in-law Kate and granddaughter Eloise. Andre was a fine blacksmith and joined us as our foreman in 2008. He is sorely missed here.
As Andre was a keen fisherman, Nigel decided to design a bench to commemorate his life with the theme of the river banks he had so loved.
Dawn, Sheena, Katie and I all made tadpoles to use as ornamentation for the bench Nigel and the blacksmiths were making to commemorate our friend Andre’s life.
Dawn’s daughter Alice asked if she could make one too. Here is how she did it. Andrew had prepared a kit for her – a 25mm solid steel sphere welded to a rod, to make into the head, and a strip of 13mm by 3mm flat steel to make the tail from. Andrew starts by describing how they would be shaping them.
Two years ago Elizabeth decided that there was no longer room enough in the office to display Nigel’s growing range of designs, and moved her office/showroom to a larger room on the other side of the workshop.
The old office had a large picture window overlooking the workshop next-door. Many visitors used to spend a great deal of time looking through it, fascinated by the sight of the three blacksmiths working there.
Posted By Elizabeth Stocker
Nigel’s nephew Stephen has joined our team at Bullhouse Mill to help Elizabeth update the existing website and build an ecommerce site. His first job was to set up this blog site for us. Naturally, Stephen is an expert in computer programming languages and, having been born and raised in Hertfordshire, has an excellent grasp of the English language. Sadly though, he is finding it a struggle to learn Swedish to communicate with his girlfriend Sara, who is studying landscape architecture in Sweden. On top of that, he now has the added challenge of learning the Yorkshire dialect to talk with us here!
Posted By Nigel Tyas
Here in the south Pennines we have a long and proud tradition of metalworking and it was this great heritage that led us to set up our forge at Bullhouse where we knew we could find people with the skills to grow the business.
There have been a number of watermills on the Upper Don, and the mill at Bullhouse is one of the oldest, first recorded around 1435 AD.