Fringe Box



Guildford Smiths Saluted George V’s Coronation With A Bang!

Published on: 22 Oct, 2012
Updated on: 22 Oct, 2012

The mystery picture in the post Where Is This? N0.23, published at the beginning of September, click here to view, showed an anvil firing ceremony about to take place in Guildford in 1911. Historian JOHN GLANFIELD now adds further details about this event at the premises of what was Dickinson & Burne’s engineering workshop in Leapale Lane.

The ancient window-rattling tradition of anvil firing on special occasions was celebrated on coronation day, June 22, 1911, in the yard at Dickinson & Burnes’ engineering workshops, Leapale Lane, Guildford.

Picture postcard of the anvil firing ceremony on coronation day 1911.

Five anvils for the fifth King George. In the picture they are upturned to expose the casting slot in the base that serves as a touch hole, its charge of black powder rammed firm with a wooden plug and fused. The firing master stands back, the tip of his slender ignition rod glowing after a plunge in the smith’s portable brazier behind him. Note the hand-pumped bellows beneath the firebox.

The same view today.

The big foundry, just visible behind with its chimney, has gone. The rest will follow in the proposed Waitrose supertmarket development. They are almost the last of Guildford’s old industrial buildings.

These workshops, yard and offices were known as The Church Acre Works when engineers Dickinson & Burne Ltd first occupied the premises in the late 1890s. The firm also had an iron-casting foundry at that time in Foundry Mill Lane, close to the River Wey, below Quarry Street.

North flank and rear of the industrial building pictured by John Glanfield in September 2012.

Trade directories record neither business at those premises after 1916.

The works were requisitioned by the military for the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers’ (REME) workshops during the Second World War. They are currently occupied by the Bellerby Theatre.

Aerial view of the site, before demolition of the sheltered housing towards the top.

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