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Blacksmith forges new path to remembrance

Since 1919, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, each year a minute of silence is observed, to unite in solemn respect of those who have served and died.

This Remembrance Day will be a particularly sentimental one for blacksmith Ned Kelly (pictured below).

Mr Kelly has spent the months leading up to 11 November, recreating a replica horse-drawn dray forge that was used in WWI.

“My grandfather, Walter Murry and his brother, William were in the famous charge of the 4th Australian Light Horse at Beersheba late in the afternoon of 31 October 1917,” Mr Kelly said.

The battle is remembered as the last great cavalry charge.

The 4th and 12th Light Horse captured more than 700 men and turned the line ultimately allowing Gaza to fall a week later allowing allied troops to enter Jerusalem.

“Both of them came home,” Mr Kelly said.

“I myself served in the Air Force for 23 years.

“So when you double that up I guess I’m a bit sentimental about it and I’m proud of what I have made so people will know there were blacksmiths on the front lines using travelling forges.”

As mounted troops rode into battle, the blacksmiths would not be far behind.

A dray is a sturdy, wooden flat-bed wagon, with wooden wheels, pulled by one or more horses.

Mr Kelly took a dray that had been donated to the Ipswich Historical Society by the Doherty family and has reconstructed it into a replica dray forge.

He also made a bellows, a tool box and the forge and has donated it to the Ipswich Historical Society along with a book he wrote about its construction.

“I had help from wheel wright Roy Clarke in Boonah,” Mr Kelly said.

“A few of us went and helped with putting the tyres (outer steel rim) on as they had to be heated up in a great big fire in the ground.

“The original dray was in very poor condition so there was a lot of work that went into making everything almost from scratch.”

Visitors to the Cooneana Heritage Centre will be able to see the travelling forge working at the From Horses to Horsepower event on this Sunday, 15 November.

Despite the heyday of the blacksmiths having long faded and it’s people like Mr Kelly, who has spent countless hours recreating this replica, that ensure the generations to come can know and remember.

From Horses to Horsepower is on at Cooneana Heritage Centre, 1041 Redbank Plains Road, New Chum this Sunday, 15 November from 10am until 2pm. Entry is $5, children under 12 years free, bus rides $2 per person.

This is a Covid Safe event. Book here.

Read also:

>>> Treasure trove of local history found in basement

>>> Blacksmith builds brick forge with Ipswich-made bricks

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