A History of YALDING, Kent, England

EDGAR STERN Blacksmith and Farrier.

This was originally written as a tribute to Edgar, who had been our village blacksmith since 1950, after his sudden death on Thursday 28th of September 2006. Although this came as a shock to many, especially his family, Edgar had a very busy, fruitful, and successful life, and passed his skills onto two following generations, countless apprentices, including a whole world-wide family of farriers. His skill over the forge anvil was inherited from his father, Peter Stern of West Farleigh, and his grandfather, a wheelwright and blacksmith from London.


Our local village smithy stands as a unique reminder of a time when every hamlet was self sufficient to many needs, and most had their own blacksmith. In the nineteenth century Yalding had on average twelve of these particular artisans displaying their skills. Slowly with agricultural and engineering changes, the requirement for this trade declined, and finally the remaining one was in our central High Street operated by Alfred Crouch, then acquired by Edgar.

With wife Joyce, they brought up a family of five children, that now includes fourteen grandchildren and fifteen great grandchildren. Edgar passed his skills down to three of his sons, whilst his daughters initially with Joyce made sure that the office worked smoothly. They have always been involved with the wider field of demonstrating their skills, competing, and teaching the requirements to be a good farrier. When Edgar took over the Yalding forge it was part of Court Lodge farm, but he acquired it complete at about 1954. At that time work was mainly agricultural repairs, blacksmithing and some horseshoeing, with the horses being mainly farm horses and gypsy ponies, although Edgar was also skilled at wheelwrighting having shod many wheels with metal tyres at our village forge.


This photo shows Edgar with son Trevor at the County Showground in 1976.


It was in 1958 that Edgar began training apprentices and to date has trained between 55 - 60 including 3 sons one son in-law two grandsons and a brother, all of whom where trained to RSS or  Diploma level. He with his trainees also competed in shoeing competitions all over the country.

Back in 1973 Edgar with sons Paul, Clive and Trevor, were largely responsible for introducing a horse shoeing contest into the programme of the Kent County Show, for which Joyce was the competition secretary. She was quoted as saying, “Here we live and breathe horses. The only holidays we have are when Edgar is competing in events in other parts of the country. Days off are spent at race meetings.”


                        Here we see Edgar in his Yalding forge.


He was regularly collecting awards in  national competitions, and in 1968 Edgar won first and second placings for shoeing at the Horse of the Year show.


Edgar was a livery man and Fellow of the Worshipful Company of Farriers of which he was a member of the court and craft committee, and as such was one of the foremost figures in his profession.