Last Updated:

22 Jul 2020

The Old Smithy, Washington

Washington, Sunderland

54.903196, -1.517884

This is a

Forge

Founded in 

18th Century

Current status is

Extant

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Grade II Listed, now The Forge restaurant

'Smithy, then pottery, now restaurant (The Forge, redacted). Mid to late C18. Sandstone rubble, pantiled roof. One storey. Central Dutch door under plain wood lintel. Square casement windows with vertical glazing bars and hooks for external shutters. Lower extension at right has corner timber posts supporting beams to pitched roof; full-width windows with glazing bars inserted in C20. Plank and batten door in south wall of extension. 2 end brick chimneys. LISTED GRADE 2. The last blacksmiths were the Dobson family in 1954. The building was a pottery until 1984 and then a restaurant from 1988. The building is said to be haunted by the spirit of a blacksmith who sits at table 9. A white lady is thought to be the ghost of Jane Atkinson who was ducked to death in the village pond in 1676 for being a witch. Another man is said to sit at table 6. The most 'famous' ghost is Robert Hazlitt, highwayman, who robbed a mail coach here in 1770'

- Sitelines

'Robert Hazlitt (otherwise William Hudson) guilty of the highway robbery of Margaret Banson in the parish of Gateshead on 6th August 1770: robbing her of a gold half guinea. Also guilty of the highway robbery of William Roper in the same parish and on the same day of a leather portmanteau (valued at 5/-) and 3 leather bags (valued at 3/-), the property of the King (a mail robbery). After execution his body was hanged in chains on Gateshead Fell.'

- britishexecutions.co.uk

Both maps above illustrate the smithy in the centre of the Green in the latter half of the 19th century. The first map further above, dated from 1862, does not lavel the smithy though the small rectangular building is noted above 'The Rectory'. The Blacksmiths workshop was right in the heart of the village, and though there was another smithy close it seems this may have been the most notable, and potentially served the residents of the Old Hall and Washington House further south.. Washington was a small isolated village this at this point radiating from Trinity Church. Only a small number of dwellings were actually situated there, signifying the lack of development even when the Collieries came about. A lot of the miners cottages and terraces were built closer to the collieries, hence the small conurbations that now make up Washington i.e Oxclose, Blackfell etc.

The second map from 1898 labels the smithy as Smy, close to the church. The village was of a similar size though extending northwards on Spout Lane to accommodate local colliery workers.

The 1921 Ordnance Survey of Washington again shows the Smithy adjacent to the village green. Again, there is little change except the housing developments on Spout Lane and industrial expansion of the colliery.

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Photograph of the Smithy, undated. The workshop can be seen in the centre of the image, close by to the village Church. A number of gentleman stand outside, and a lad with a bike can be seen against the village terraces.

Retrieved from Raggyspelk

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Photograph of the workshop, undated. This seems like a much earlier photograph than above considering the dress and quality of the image. The doors of the workshop are open and there is a vague figure can be seen at the forge.

Retrieved from Raggyspelk

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