The Smiddy Museum, St Margaret’s Hope
Centuries ago the local blacksmith was a vital part of the community. He was kept busy making and repairing farm machinery. Some made and mended pots, pans and tools used in the garden. In addition, he shod horses and mended their harnesses.
Clad in his protective leather apron, he would work the fire with hand-operated air bellows. The roaring bellows and burning sparks would fly as he worked and the smiddy was often the place where men and young boys would gather.
There was a great number of blacksmiths in Orkney and they were kept very busy until the working horse was replaced by new agricultural machinery and horse-drawn carriages were replaced with the motor vehicle.
The village smithy in St Margaret's Hope has been turned into the Smiddy Museum and houses a fine display of tools and artefacts, which the blacksmith would have used in his work. Horse harnesses hang from the walls and there are strange-looking pieces of equipment on the floor.
As well as the blacksmith's tools, there is an interesting collection of archive photographs which show local events and items of interest, as well as school photographs.
The museum also features a small exhibition on the annual Boys' Ploughing Match, when local lads head to the beach with their miniature ploughs. The event is taken very seriously and many of the lads use ploughs handed down through the generations. The girls dress in fine costumes as the 'horses'.
There is no entry fee to the village smithy but donations are welcome. There are public toilets next to the museum and a café just around the corner.
The museum is open all-year round and is open daily during the summer. Please check with Visit Orkney on 01856 872856 before travelling any distance.