Nichol’s Blacksmith Shop, Duntroon
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.