‘Blazing Blacksmith’ can now forge ahead after planning green light

An award-winning Borders blacksmith can now forge ahead with plans to pass his ancient skills on to a new generation.
Waterheads blacksmith Jim Whitson.Waterheads blacksmith Jim Whitson.
Waterheads blacksmith Jim Whitson.

Jim Whitson is owner and manager of the Blazing Blacksmith, which operates from a workshop at Upper Linnfall at Waterheads in Peebles.

Jim’s work is varied, from ornate indoor and outdoors railings and banisters to gates, benches, standalone sculptures and even a bannock toaster.

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The business employs another full-time blacksmith who Jim took on as an apprentice five years ago and is now time-served.

Jim also hired a second apprentice in 2021, who currently works three days a week.

Now a planning application has been rubber-stamped by Scottish Borders Council to demolish the company’s existing timber workshop and replace it with a fit for the 21st century steel-framed structure.

This will enable Jim to take on the second apprentice on a full-time basis.

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A report submitted with the application, from planning consultants Ericht, says: “It is proposed that a full time position will be offered to this apprentice but the ability to do this will depend on implementing the proposed improved premises as this will provide the space to safely run projects simultaneously and increase the range of small scale work for galleries and on-line sales.

“The new premises will be necessary to justify the full-time employment of an apprentice, a time-served blacksmith and Jim’s business is enabling blacksmiths valuable traditional skills, at risk of being lost, to be passed on down through generations.”

In 2021 Jim received the most prestigious award given by the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths, ‘The Tonypandy Cup’, for an outstanding example of the skill of a blacksmith in the United Kingdom.

The planning report adds: “Essentially a building which is fit for purpose in the 21st century will be created.

“Now, more than ever, employment opportunities are important and the passing down of traditional blacksmiths’ skills is something of great value.”