Monday 10th January 2011, and another piece of Broadford history is gone forever! Stray’s Blacksmith Shop, a prominent and long-established Broadford landmark, was swept away by the demolition team in a few short moments. Howard Cooper and I managed to get down there with our cameras in time to record the final scenes. This is what we saw:
It was all over in a few seconds!
All that remained was a heap of rubbish!
The early history of this building is unclear but it appears to be pre-WWII, and may be older. It was run by three generations of the Stray family and became a Broadford landmark over many decades. Norm Stray, now 71 and the son of the original owner, remembers happy times spent there in his childhood:
“We had a big black dog back then and I used to watch Dad rope it. Strapping the horses up and shoeing them, I used to practice by roping the big black dog and throwing him on the ground so I could shoe him. You know? Then of a night time after tea, Dad used to go back to the shed clipping shoes, and shaping shoes up for the next day. I used to go over there and when I got tired I lay down with the black dog, beside the fire and went to sleep.”
It wasn’t an easy life though:
“Then, Dad was pretty strict too. Dad and I [when I was older) used to work together. We could cut a piece of steel off and make a set of horse shoes. Dad and I could turn them, claw them and punch them, ready to be clipped in eight minutes! That was making them by hand. In later days it got too much. You had to buy them. You couldn’t keep up. We had up to 3 or 4 blokes working then. On a wet day all the trucks would be lined up. All the Shire trucks from [Broadford and ] Kilmore would be lined up waiting to get something done too. They were the “Good old days.”
The shed finally closed on 16th February, 2009 and has been standing idle ever since. Efforts to preserve the building failed and most of the contents were sold off in a huge auction some time ago. Buyers came from near and far to get their hands on tools, machinery and trinkets from a bygone age. Today, January 10th, 2011, the building came down, and a team of asbestos-removing specialists carried off the remains of that old corrugated asbestos roof. The double doors off the front of the shed have been offered to the Historical Society and will be proudly displayed in the pavilion building.
Norm Stray was interviewed by Ruth Davern and Gloria Cordingley from our society in 2010, and the whole of their interview was published in the Autumn edition of our newsletter.