After many years of lying derelict, the 200-year-old Kippen Smiddy will open again to the public this summer.
Due to the efforts of Kippen Heritage, the National Trust for Scotland (who own it) were persuaded to carry out some repairs and maintenance to improve the conditions to allow access to visitors.
In the centre of the village near the Cross, the Smiddy sits at the top of Rennie’s Loan. This narrow-cobbled street was once Kippen’ s main road between Stirling and Dumbarton, which makes perfect sense for the site of a blacksmith’s workshop. The Smiddy was at the heart of village life and was owned by the Rennie family for at least six generations. Andrew Rennie, the last of that long line of smiths, was apprenticed to his father at the age of fourteen and he worked there until he donated it to the National Trust for Scotland in 1985, when he was in his 90’s.
In an interview, he recalled that there used to be a queue of horses outside the Smiddy every day waiting to be shod. Farming life relied on the Blacksmith also for ploughs and general agricultural tools. A few yards down the road sits the Black Bull House, originally the village inn built in 1729. Travellers would stop there for refreshment and have their horses shod at the Smiddy.
Stepping through the door of the Smiddy is like a step back in time. The old stone walls and floor still carry the traces of soot from the great double forge, while the large leather bellows sit either side of it, waiting to blow life into the fire. The double anvils in front of the hearth, tools still hanging around the walls and a turning lathe driven by a foot pedal all speak of days long gone.
A photograph of the hearth has kindly been supplied by Andrew Tweedie of National Trust for Scotland.
Kippen Heritage, acting as volunteers, hope to open the Smiddy again to the public next summer, so that people can once again step into this precious time capsule of a by-gone age.
Margaret Oswald, Kippen Heritage