The earliest known Blacksmith to operate at Chain Bridge Forge, and possibly its builder, Francis South is listed in the Pigots Trade Directory for 1828-9 as one of eight blacksmiths working in Spalding at the time.
At some point the forge came into the ownership of William White, a mariner of Spalding Port. The designation ‘mariner’ crops up a number of times in the deeds and documents relating to the workshops, so it seems they had built up enough capital to invest in property. It is unknown whether William White in fact leased the forge to Francis South, or obtained the property from him.
Whilst the workshop was in the ownership of William White, Edward Fisher rented it for sometime, before purchasing it in 1849.
“For and in consideration of the sum of £190 of lawful British money, to him, the said William White in hand was well and truly paid by Edward Fisher of Spalding aforesaid blacksmith.”
In this transaction the workshop is described as:
that blacksmiths shop, shoeing shed and coal yard, east by the Turnpike Road on the west by the River Welland
The 1850-60 day books show that Edward Fisher regularly maintained the boats of Spalding port, providing them with metal repairs.
A sail maker’s shop is also mentioned in the Forge’s documents – this is in fact the white building to the right of the main Forge. It was still in ships and boat supplies in 1898 when George Dodd arrived, but by 1911 it was converted into a fish and chip shop by the Knipe family of New Road. Mr Dodd’s son, Geoff Dodd’s father, reportedly fetched the fish for Frank Knipe from the railway station in a little hand cart for a 1/2d or a 1d a day