In 1822, a blacksmith and his son purchased the site, then consisting of four wheat mills, two plaster mills, a fuller , an oil mill and a sawmill, with the plan to start up a metal forge “in the English method”. By 1825, 30 tonnes of sheet metal were being produced annually. However, the forge changes hands several times in as many years and by 1840, the business had collapsed, but not before several housing buildings were erected on site. In 1859, an application was made to re-open the sawmill that was originally specified in the 1822 planning application, and this ran until 1866, after which the site began producing bricks and lime. This operated until the mid 1920s, when a hydro-electric plant was installed and operated until the 1930s. The history fades for 50 years, before the site was acquired in 1980 as a recreation centre and caused the remaining industrial buildings and kilns to be demolished in 1985. Aerial photos show development up until 1993 but after that the photos show a site growing further into disrepair.
Wandering around in the snow once again, we visited the northern section first, which was largely stripped, graffiti’d and empty, though the toilets of one building was curiously filled with hundreds of used nappies. Heading across the bridge to the southern section, we began exploring an old bar and ballroom, filled with fresco’s of semi naked women. Here we bumped into four other explorers from Lausanne – I guess we weren’t the only ones to visit from Switzerland that day! The other buildings were large public spaces for dancing and performances but again, mostly empty. The final house, which apparently housed the Forge’s employees a century ago, was now empty but was the jewel of the site, with the place partially furnished and some lovely architectural features inside.