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Helmdon Historical Articles

Memories Of Jerry Gascoigne, Blacksmith

contributed by Derek Ratledge & Ronald Jeacock



Jerry Gascoigne lived at what is now called Greystones, Church Street.

This information is from Derek Ratledge, Jerry Gascoigne’s (the blacksmith’s) grandson (in conversation with Richard Spence, the present owner of Greystones):

“Tragically the blacksmith’s first wife died whilst only in her very early 40s.  However he soon met a new lady and went on to marry within 18 months.  His new wife then apparently refused to move into the blacksmith’s original old cottage (on land now occupied by Fairfords) due to its run down state.  So as not to alienate his new bride he then, by his own hand, demolished the cottage and in 1936 rebuilt what is now the original “two up, two down” house front section of Greystones, re-using the original stonework.  Derek also had fond memories of his grandmother cooking on a red tiled Triplex range in the kitchen which still stands resplendent in the front room."

Fairfords, built by Alan Watson, is now owned by Philip and Caroline King.  Originally part of the blacksmith’s property it had a cowshed on it which explains why Caroline has found horseshoes in her garden.

This contribution is from Adrienne Watson:

Ronald Jeacock (Eileen Watson’s brother) used to spend quite a bit of time with Jerry Gascoigne in the mid/late 50s and remembers him well.  He relates the following:

“As well as the house and the forge on the site on Church Street there was also a wooden cow shed where he used to milk one or two cows.   He grazed the cows in the school field. 

Jerry owned or rented the land on the Wappenham Road where there are now two bungalows (owned by Colin Oakey) just below Elm Cottage, home of the Vicars family.  He kept a horse on that field.

He also owned quite a bit of land on the Wappenham Road just before Astwell - the field on the right as you go down the straight before Astwell with a small barn in the middle, and another field between the railway line and the brook.  Also fields on the opposite side of the Wappenham Road by the track to Lois Weedon.  Ron also remembers him keeping a horse called Tommy there.

Jerry grew lots of mangles and swedes in those fields which he used to show at all of the local shows, even as far afield as the British Tinken (sic) show in Northampton.  He used to win lots of prizes apparently.

Ronald can remember two relatives visiting - perhaps nieces – with the surname of Pettifer.” 


Ed note: Gascoigne’s forge was featured in the map of Helmdon in the 1930s which Harold Seckington contributed to the book Remembrance of Things Past (Helmdon Women's Club) later reproduced in Aspects of Helmdon no.6.  Over the years there must have been other forges in the village, for example there is a house called The Old Forge in Station Road.

(click on image to enlarge)

Jerry Gascoigne's forge is shown on the left side of Church Street, just below Gravel Path





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