Shops & Businesses

Here we take a stroll down Main Street and a walk into the past

Jack Chesterton, Blacksmith, 29 Main Street, Kirby Muxloe

John Chesterton was Kirby’s last blacksmith. He appeared with his tools at the first Local History Exhibition in the Church hall in 1970, which was part of the Ruby Year celebrations of the establishment of the parish. He regretted that he could not bring a pony into the hall to shoe! He said to our local historian, Jonathan Wilshere, that “no longer does the village wake to the sound of the anvil”. Many of Kirby’s elder residents can remember as children watching him shoe a horse, with sparks flying all over the place! What would “health and safety” say today? He was clearly well-liked.

George and John (Jack) were brothers and had a forge at Ratby. They both worked with Tom Moore, the wheelwright, when putting new tyres onto farm carts. When a wheel was to be repaired, it was firstly taken to Jack Chesterton’s, who cut off the tyre. It was then wheeled back down the road to the Wheelwright’s shop, where a big fire was lit. When it was hot enough, the wheel was put into the rim.

After the Blacksmiths closed down in 1948, the building became a private house and was occupied by the Thirlwell family. In those days, the house backed onto fields and there was clear sight looking out of the rear windows all the way to ‘Big Hill’, behind the castle. The house has changed hands twice in the last few years and is now named ‘The Old Forge’. Jack died in 1971, aged 63, and an era died with him.