MORE than 200 years of tradition look set to come to an end unless a retiring blacksmith can find someone to take over his business.
Dave Cox has been unable to find anyone to take over The Smithy in High Street, Southwick, near Fareham.
Mr Cox, 64, has run the smithy for 23 years, and there has been a blacksmith on the site for more than 200 years.
He has already delayed retiring to give himself more time to find a buyer. But he is now set to give it up at the end of April.
‘It’s going to be quite a wrench when I finally leave,’ he said. ‘I’ve never not wanted to come into work – I absolutely love it. I desperately want someone to take it on. There’s been quite a bit of interest, but no-one who has been quite right for it.’
In a 39-year blacksmithing career Mr Cox’s jobs have included everything from working for Gales brewery, to creating bespoke church and school gates, commemorative sculptures and the gantries over the M27.
But alongside that he has been a fixture in the local community. Mr Cox, of Denmead, said: ‘I’ve never needed to advertise – it’s all come through word of mouth. I think there will always be a place for a trade like mine, but very little is done with the hands nowadays – most people are afraid of getting their hands dirty.’
One of his clients, Mark Mardell, from Horndean, added: ‘When there’s all this stuff from the government about skills disappearing, it seems wrong to let his business go.’
If he can’t find anyone to take the business, Mr Cox will sell off his equipment, leaving the building back in the hands of the Southwick Estate.
Christopher Langford, the estate’s managing agent, said: ‘If Dave Cox retires, we will consider what to do with his workshop as and when.
‘We would have to do something that we could be confident would fit in.’
Anyone interested in taking over The Smithy should contact Mr Cox on (023) 9232 5744.