The local village blacksmith’s workshop was a place where people met to hear the latest gossip and news. It would have been the warmest place to be in the cold winter months. The blacksmith or ‘smiddy’ worked side by side with the fishermen and curers during the herring season, preparing the metal hoops for the fish barrels.
One of the main jobs of the village smiddy was to make and replace horseshoes, which had to be done on a regular basis. Every farm had several working horses and the horse shoes on display show the range of sizes that were made, ranging from small ponies to large Clydesdales that pulled the plough, turning the soil in the fields. A rasp was used to file down long teeth in older horses, which is where the saying ‘getting a bit long in the tooth’ came from.
An apprentice, as young as 11, would have worked the bellows, working from 6am to 7 at night, making sure the furnace fire was kept going.
The more unusual roles of the smiddy include storyteller, tooth extraction and some even carried out marriage ceremonies over the anvil.
Some displaced tenants, who had been evicted from Kildonan during the Highland clearances, learnt new skills and trades, like the blacksmith’s and made use of their new skills, when they emigrated overseas.