Rezen Geering The Blacksmith

Rezen was born in 1888. In 1998 his daughter, Marjorie Funnell, produced a memoir of his life and recorded his words

Records go back in the family as far as 1829 they took on an apprentice at that time. We also know that it was used as a storage place for smuggled goods way back. This was not only a Smithy business, but also a thriving well-digging business prior to 1880, in the area. Carpenters were also employed to make wagons and carts for farmers, and wheelwrights were also employed there.


Rezen on Horses
“Lots of big heavy cart horses, and young colts. They used to go out on the marsh and catch them and bring them straight in to be shoed, but we knew how to do them. If you got a kicker you turned him back to the wall, and when he kicked he kicked the wall. He never kicked it many times. There are buttresses built outside, two or three of them, and that was where we turned the horse to kick. He'd kick the wall without any shoes on, and after about three kicks he would hold his foot up for you. Afterwards you would never have any trouble with him. You never hit a horse, nothing like hat. The worse thing you can do is hit a horse.

“We used to dock horses. They said it put strength in their backs, but I don't know. Years ago vets used to blister and fire horses. Blister them on the legs for side bones and ring bones. We used to burn them across the hoof when it had gone brittley, then they grew down better.

“Afterwards,blacksmiths were not allowed to do anything. We used to file their teeth, but now they have to go to the vet. We made irons to fit in the horse's mouth for balling hem. We called them balling irons. You put them in to keep the mouth open so you could put your arm in a give them a ball, medicine. My mother's father was a proper horseman. He could do anything with a horse. He traveled with a horse and could leave it anywhere, and it wouldn't let anyone near him...He only had to throw his lead down on the ground and the horse wouldn't move or let anyone touch him. If he went into the pub he always brought out the horse a pint of beer in a bowl.

“Jackson from the Brickworks bought a horse in London. It was a wonderful looking horse, but they couldn't do anything with it. It was quite mad, and they kept it at the brickyard, he did have stables at Gausdens in Friday Street. They brought it to us to be shod. We couldn't do it. It took all one afternoon to get one shoe on and the bloke who brought was was afraid of it. We told him to take it away and bring it back in the morning. He did it and we threw it down and shod it. You wouldn't be allowed to do that these days. After that it wasn't too bad to shoe."


“We had to heat the tyre up and squeech it with water. The tyre had to be smaller than the wheel, and when they heated the iron stretched, then you watered them down and they shrunk. It was a four man job. We did several at a time. I have put 40 of these tyres on before breakfast. We had to do them early before people started coming with their horses, as we couldn't be took off. Once you started you couldn't stop to show a horse. It was very hot work, and there were not many people around who did it. It was very hard work, for you had to get the right size. Measure round the wheel, then cut it and bend it, then shut them up. This all had to be done in the fire as there was no acetylene welding in those days.”

The Gates at Ashburnham

“At Ashburnham there are some very big iron gates, they were made by my great, great grandfather. They are still there. All fancy works, all rounds and scrolls, and I can't imagine how they were made. They were all wrought by hand in the fire. They were enormous as they are 7 or 8 foot tall. I don't know how they would have moved them about...His name is on one of them, George Geering. That is over 200 years old."

Text and picture from “Reminiscence of Rezen Geering” reproduced by kind permission of Marjorie Funnell

Note: the iron gates at Ashburnham were designed by Robert Adam in c 1780.

The full text is avalable on our Reminiscences page.


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