Incredible History & Heritage to visit
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Tranquil Parks Adult only caravan and touring park ‘Woodland Springs’ is delighted to announce another fantastic attraction for those who enjoy delving into Devon’s fantastic history and heritage.
Tranquil Parks Woodland Springs is surrounded by many major National Trust properties and other great out door activities.
The latest National Trust property to be featured by Woodland Springs is the Finch Foundry.
In the village of Sticklepath near Okehampton, amongst the rows of houses which line the old A30, lies a small workshop which stands away from the houses. This building was the home of Finch Foundry as a working business for over 150 years. During that period the names Finch Bros., Finch and the other associated tool brands became household names in the South West, producing high-quality edge-tools for farmers, gardeners, thatchers and miners to name just a few.
The company hit their peak in the 1880’s. By this time the company employed as many as 25 men across the site which included blacksmiths, carpenters, wheelwrights, farriers and general workers. The range of machinery they used included lathes, sharpening and polishing wheels for finishing blades, two drop hammers weighing 90 and 180 lbs and two trip hammers weighing ¾ and 1 tonne and a set of shears which could cut through hot metal several inches thick. Metal from the midlands and Wales was heated for working using seven forges and two furnaces
All this equipment is run by two large water wheels producing over 8 horse power between them and taking advantage of the power of the River Taw which flows down from Dartmoor and out to Barnstaple.
The hammer and rack that holds them, plus shears and two water wheels, were all salvaged from Tavistock Iron Works during it’s closure in the early 1800’s. Few new items were purchased or put together as repair and replacement was the only way to keep business going. The ¾ tonne hammer has a head 130 years old and the shaft is 100 years old. A third water wheel salvaged from an unknown location, replaced the bellows. The wheel was set up to run a fan which blows air into channels in the ground and up pipes into the fires to keep them hot.
The Finch’s worked hard and at their peak produced 400 tools a day.These included billhooks, sickles, a small number of scythes, hay knives, axes, potato knives, spades and shovels as well as hinges for gates, mole traps, chains and just about anything passing customers would ask for. From the early 1900s to the closure of the site in 1960, the company moved with the times. Finch Foundry was not able to keep up with the big tool producers in the north because of mechanisation; changing to scrap-metal merchants, funeral directors, mechanics and importers.
After the closure of the site in 1960 it was taken on and reopened as a museum by family members Bob and Richard Barron. The museum was run as a partnership with Okehampton Museum of Dartmoor Life for a time before being given to the National Trust in 1994. Since this time the National Trust has invested over £100,000 to keep the machinery running. There are regular demonstrations of the machinery, to give a glimpse of its’ industrious past.
Finch Foundry is open from mid-March until the first weekend in November, 11am to 5pm daily, last entry is 4.30pm. National Trust members free.