Metal Worker

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Tussle over blacksmith heritage

BLACKSMITHS in Eveleigh, Sydney, are campaigning against the State Government’s move to evict them from their workshop.
For the past 17 years, Wrought Artworks has had free use of the furnace workshop in Bay Two of the Australian Technology Park.
Using ancient blacksmith techniques, metal is melted in a furnace and banged into shape by a steam-powered hammer.
The Redfern-Waterloo Authority is demanding the company pay to use the workshop because it is a commercial business. It says it simply wants a tenant which pays the rent.
According to the company, it had an agreement to run rent-free in exchange for keeping the heritage equipment maintained. It fears the government will demolish the site and turn it into an office building
The authorities say the heritage status of the site will be preserved if the company is evicted. Activists say heritage is about more than building and machinery.
85-year-old ex-machinist Bob Rhymes worked at the site for 30 years, starting in 1950. According to him, heritage is also about the memory of the men who worked there. Many died of industry-related disease, and keeping the machines working is a way of keeping the memories alive.
The workshop will be running an open day on 17 August 2008.