(last updated July 2019)
What has been happening in the metal working sector
The amount of money that people spend on decorative items and goods for the house or garden is affected by the state of the economy and of the property market. When the economy is healthy, people feel confident in spending on non-essential items but when there's a downturn, people cut back on their expenditure.
The early 2000s saw a buoyant housing market, boosted by low interest rates, and home owners could afford to spend money on improvements and enhancements to their homes and gardens. Automated gates became popular for driveways. Spending on home and garden improvements was encouraged by the popularity of TV make-over programmes such as Changing Rooms, Ground Force or Home Front.
Unfortunately, the late 2000s saw a sharp slowdown in the housing market which developed into a serious economic slump during 2008 and into 2009. The economy improved only very modestly in 2010 and 2011 was another very lacklustre year. 2012 saw the economy narrowly avoid a slip back into recession. 2013 saw some improvement in the economy and signs that the housing market was picking up and the recovery continued during the mid-2010s although both the economy and the housing market weakened in 2016. The UK's vote to leave the EU has led to inflation going up while the economy and the housing market have both seen a slowdown. Consumers' disposable income has been squeezed, meaning they don't have as much money to spend on things like ornamental ironwork.
You will have to decide whether:
- there is sufficient demand in your area to support your proposed business
- you will be able to compete against other blacksmiths and similar businesses
Keeping up to date with developments
Joining a trade association is an excellent way of keeping up with developments in your industry.
The British Farriers & Blacksmiths Association (BFBA) represents people and businesses working in the metals industries. They maintain a directory of traditional blacksmiths and also produce The Forge journal. Contact the Association at The Forge, Avenue B, 10th Street, the National Agricultural Centre, Stoneleigh, Warwickshire CV8 2LG.
Artist-blacksmiths are represented by the British Artist Blacksmiths Association (BABA). Membership information and contact details are available on the BABA website.
The National Heritage Ironwork Group (NHIG) supports the conservation of heritage ironwork. Visit the NHIG website for more information about the activities of the group.
The Guild of Wrought Ironwork Craftsmen of Wessex aims to promote traditional blacksmithing skills and offers various training courses, as well as participating in shows around the country. Visit the Guild website for more information.