TWO centuries of tradition are set to be saved after a blacksmith stepped forward to take over a village firm – after reading an appeal in The News.
Wes Hope responded to retiring blacksmith Dave Cox’s appeal for a buyer of his workshop in High Street, Southwick.
Mr Cox, 65, had feared there would be no-one to take over the business when he was due to retire at the end of last month.
There has been a smithy on the site for more than 200 years and Mr Cox, who has run it for the past 23 years, had already delayed his retirement in a bid to find a suitable replacement.
Mr Hope, from Gosport, said: ‘I read the article in The News and I wasn’t going to ring at first, but then I thought it was too good an opportunity to pass up.
‘I had been working for various different companies looking for a blacksmith’s position, or the chance to set up my own smithy, so this came at just the right time for me.
‘This is potentially a life-changing opportunity.’
The 33-year-old has already served a four-and-a-half year apprenticeship under two blacksmiths.
He added: ‘It’s not just a job or a business to me, it’s a lifestyle – I love blacksmithing.’
The pair are currently working alongside each either as Mr Cox shows the new owner the ropes to ensure a smooth takeover.
The senior blacksmith said: ‘We can’t quite confirm it yet, Wes has got one more interview with the squire.’
The village, near Fareham, is wholly owned by the Southwick Estate and it must still approve Mr Hope taking over the business.
Mr Cox had been approached by several other people to take over the smithy, but none he felt was appropriate.
But he added: ‘I’m sure Wes will fit in and he’s hungry for work. I see so much of myself in him.
‘I feel comfortable with him taking over and this will enable him to do what he longs to do.’
If no-one was found, Mr Cox was going to sell off his equipment and return the building into the hands of the Southwick Estate.