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THE NOAK HILL FORGE

Thanks to Don Tait who has compiled this short Wingrave family history using census and church records along with other material from his archive. The Wingrave family lived and worked at the Noak Hill Forge through a large part of the 20th century.

Born in 1887 in Great Warley Lydia Ellen Oliver (opposite in 1965) was one of seven children born to Joseph and Sarah Oliver née Passfield. On the 1891 census returns Lydia is found aged 4 years old and residing along with her parents and siblings at Headley Common, Great Warley where her father is noted as being employed as a gardener (domestic). The 1901 census finds Lydia employed in the household of Elizabeth M. Judd in Warley as a kitchen maid aged 14. Married in 1906 to William George Wingrave, a blacksmith from Warley. The Wingrave family had been residing in the South Weald / Brentwood area for a considerable time and had for generations been employed as blacksmiths serving the farming and local community that were around them. On the 1891 census William is nine years old and is to be found residing in Brook Street along with his parents and siblings where his father is employed as a blacksmith. On the 1901 census William is recorded as still residing with his parents and siblings in a premises in Brook Street and his occupation has not changed from that of a blacksmith. Sometime after their marriage William and Lydia moved to Noak Hill where William is recorded as being employed as a farrier, smith and wheelwright on the 1911 census. It was at Noak Hill that their children, William Oliver, Lydia Edith and Charles George were born and later christened at St Thomas’ Chapel of Ease and where they attended the local school. Both William George (died 1952 aged 70) and Lydia Ellen (died 1968 aged 81) are buried in St Thomas’ churchyard as is their son, Charles who died in 1935 aged 26.

 

The Forge in about 1981.

The Forge, apx early 60s

It was a working forge at least until the 1970s. I worked for the Greater London Council's Harold Hill fencing gang in the late 60s and very early 70s. We used long steel spikes and short steel wedges on a regular basis, all for breaking concrete around fence and gate posts. They needed to be dressed and drawn on a regular basis and after days of moaning my foreman, Ronnie Enfield, would take them all up to the forge for maintenance. They came back pucka and we then proceeded to give them wellie until they blunted again and the whole process would continue over.

                                                                                                                         Del Smith