Dying trade lives on in Springfield
By Daisy Baker
February 8, 2017
Springfield blacksmith and farrier Bill Cain walked into a blacksmith’s shop in his Victorian hometown looking for work when he was 14 and has not looked back since.
Mr Cain celebrated his 80th birthday last week and is one of few remaining blacksmiths in Tasmania.
“It’s a great trade but there are few of us left here that do it properly, I mean I make all my own tools and shoes,” he says.
“Blacksmithing has never been given the recognition it should have, we’re true craftsmen. Henry Ford would never have built a car without blacksmiths.”
A highlight of his career, Mr Cain says, was when he was learning the trade and got to make and fit shoes for a famous pacing horse in Melbourne.
“Another highlight would be saving horses lives and giving them a new start,” he says.
“I was born to be with horses. Horses never leave you on your own, they’re a great mate.”
Mr Cain began working for himself in Melbourne and continued to do so when he and his wife Margaret moved to Springfield 22 years ago.
“I guess I’m a bit of a workaholic really and I’m not religious but if I was, my religion would be blacksmithing,” he says, more serious than joking.
Walking through his workshops, he points out collections of handmade tools and a fireplace tool set he has recently completed.
“I always try and do something different and there are no two pieces I make that are the same,” he says.
“I can’t draw or sketch but I can see things in my head and I just know how to make them.”
Mr Cain is currently teaching blacksmithing to a father and son who live on a neighbouring property, and another man from Longford, with the hope the trade won’t die out completely.
He says it will be a sad day when he can no longer light the fire in his workshop and it is hard to imagine his life without blacksmithing.
“I’m one of the lucky ones – I’ve never wanted to do anything else.”