Ni­chol’s Black­smith Shop, Dun­troon

The Shed - - Blacksmith -

Ni­col’s Black­smith Shop is the only eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble and au­then­tic vil­lage black­smith in New Zealand. It is lo­cated in the mid­dle of Dun­troon town­ship on State High­way 83, some 40km north-west of Oa­maru.

The build­ing was fac­ing de­mo­li­tion un­til four lo­cal farm­ers — John Hore, Burns Pol­lock, Bill Simp­son, and Jim Har­vey — bought it in 1975. As chil­dren these four men had spent many af­ter-school hours with Ni­col Muir­den at the smithy and pumped the bel­lows for him. They wanted to pre­serve the his­tory of the vil­lage. Own­er­ship of the build­ing was trans­ferred to Ni­col’s Black­smith His­toric Trust in 2006.

New Zealand His­toric Places Trust’s 2009 clas­si­fi­ca­tion of the build­ing as Cat­e­gory 1 rec­og­nizes that it is as a place of na­tional sig­nif­i­cance, em­pha­siz­ing its authen­tic­ity and im­por­tance in telling the story of the role of the horse in the de­vel­op­ment of this coun­try. Ar­chi­tec­turally, the build­ing is typ­i­cal of lo­cal smithies with a weath­er­board con­struc­tion over an earthen floor. Such build­ings are now rare, as most have been mod­ern­ized by adding wall-to-wall floors and other lux­u­ries. The orig­i­nal smithies were not built for com­fort but for func­tion and Ni­chol’s Black­smith Shop pro­vides an ex­am­ple of the work­ing con­di­tions of the 1870s. Ni­col’s Black­smith Shop is im­por­tant be­cause it is a very rare ex­am­ple of what was a vi­tal ser­vice through­out New Zealand, and it lives on in its orig­i­nal build­ing. It rep­re­sents the work­place of a crafts­man, who epit­o­mizes many oth­ers who col­lec­tively kept the land-trans­port sys­tem and the farm­ing in­dus­try work­ing.

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