Fire risk a hurdle for Richmond blacksmith proposal
The blacksmith shop in Britannia Shipyard used to service the boats that were built and repaired there but no longer functions. To get it going, a blacksmith would likely have to be hired and a new structure built, according to the City of Richmond. (PHOTO CITY OF RICHMOND)
The City of Richmond is investigating how it would get a historic blacksmith up and melting metals again.
The stumbling block is the original location at the Steveston Britannia Shipyard building has been deemed unsuitable because of the risk the old wooden structure could burn down.
According to a city report, it used to be a place to create and repair metal parts and tools for building and maintenance of boats.
The location still has its coal-fired forge on display at its historically accurate location — though the smith isn’t running, unlike the active forges at Burnaby Village Museum and Fort Langley.
Britannia site supervisor Marie Fenwick said in her report a “purpose-built” structure would need to be built on the site with concrete floors, fireproof walls, proper venting and fire suppression equipment in order to make a blacksmith safe.
There’s also the issue of costs.
In the Burnaby museum, the blacksmith makes $30 per hour — with a cost of up to $10,000 per year — and Fort Langley is now considering a full-time professional blacksmith whose salary is yet to be determined, the report said.
“A staff person to oversee the activation of a blacksmith shop or foundry, along with other programming at Britannia, would be essential to ensure that it could be used effectively for demonstration and program purposes,” Fenwick wrote.
The report said opening the blacksmith at Britannia is being explored for a capital development plan through 2018, but opening the shop is not being recommended right now.