The Old Smithy in August 2007
Bromham, like most villages of any size, used to have a smithy. The building remains, its modern address being 8 Stagsden Road. The building was listed by the former Ministry of Public Buildings and Works in 1962 and it was described as being 17th or early 18th century with colour washed plaster over stone at the front and a timber framed wall at the rear, the roof being thatched. The main part of the house lay to the west and had three rooms with a back-to-back hearth between the other two rooms which lay in the eastern half of the property. The property consisted of one storey with attics. At that time the former forge still existed as an eastern one storey extension.
The Old Smithy formed part of The Bromham Hall Estate and was included in the large slice of the estate put up for sale by auction in 1924. The sale particulars read as follows [AD1147/4]:
Situate in the Parish of Bromham and occupying an excellent position on the Bedford Road near to Bromham Bridge
A PICTURESQUE GABLED STONE-BUILT COTTAGE
with thatched rood, containing Four Rooms down and Three up. Coal House and E.C. Pump. Good Kitchen Garden with Fruit Trees. Smithy, built of stone and brick, with tiled roof. Two-bay Implement Shed. Area:
.300 of an Acre
Let to Mr. W. Prudden on a Quarterly tenancy at a rental of
£6 0s. 6d. per annum
The Old Smithy in 1962 [Z53/21/16]
In 1927 the property was still a smithy and was valued under the 1925 Rating Valuation Act. At that time the valuer found a stone and thatch property owned and occupied by William H. Prudden, who had bought the place in 1924. Directories tell us that he had been the village blacksmith since at least 1898.
Downstairs were a parlour, kitchen and pantry, scullery and office, with three bedrooms upstairs in the attics which had a "bad slope". Outside were the wood and tile smithy measuring 13½ feet by 20 feet, a shoeing room measuring 12 feet by 14 feet and a store ("rubbish hole") in addition to a two bay open hovel. Water came from a pump but electric lighting was installed. At this time the horse was rapidly giving way to the internal combustion engine and the valuer noted "very little trade now".
William Prudden and family standing outside the smithy [Z50/21/23]
The Pruddens had been blacksmiths in Bromham since at least the 1840s. Directories list John Prudden in 1847, 1850 and 1853 (in the latter is is called John Pinder but the name is variously spelled Pridden and Pruden over the course of the hundred years or so covered by the directories so this is most likely a spelling error). He is also listed in 1862, 1864, 1869, 1877, 1885, 1890 and 1894. The smithy is last mentioned in Kelly's Directory of 1936 when William Prudden was still smith.