Demolition plans for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang forge

East Chiltington Forge. Photo courtesty of James Price SUS-170113-153918001
East Chiltington Forge. Photo courtesty of James Price SUS-170113-153918001
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An historic blacksmith’s forge in East Chiltington is under threat of demolition after developers submitted housing plans to Lewes District Council.

The controversial plans, which were submitted to planners last month, propose demolishing the East Chiltington forge to make way for a three-bedroom new build.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang designer Rowland Emett. Photo courtesy of the Rowland Emett Society. SUS-170113-153931001

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang designer Rowland Emett. Photo courtesy of the Rowland Emett Society. SUS-170113-153931001

The site, which residents say has been used by blacksmiths since 1870, also has a notable past connection with much-loved 1968 children film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Sussex artist Rowland Emett created the outlandish machines used by Dick Van Dyke’s on-screen inventor Caractacus Potts at the forge.

Tim Griffiths of the Rowland Emett Society, said: “The threatened demolition of East Chiltington Forge would be a sad loss of an important piece of the story of Rowland Emett just as it is being rediscovered.

“His cartoons for Punch during WWII his unique mechanical creations, many of which were assembled at the East Chiltington Forge, made him a household name for three decades.

Photo courtesty of The Rowland Emett Society SUS-170113-153846001

Photo courtesty of The Rowland Emett Society SUS-170113-153846001

“In more recent years his creative legacy is back in the public eye with exhibitions of his work taking place in Brighton, Hove and Ditchling last year and at Thinktank in Birmingham this year, bringing his work to a wider audience.

“It is unfortunate that just as he is becoming appreciated again, places such as this, where he bought his ideas to life, are under threat of destruction.”

While it has been vacant since the site was sold in 2015 several objectors, including blacksmith and designer James Price who rents a workshop on the same site, say there are many in the trade who would be interested in moving into the location.

Mr Price points to the success of Glynde Forge, which was taken over by graduates of Plumpton College’s blacksmithing forge following the retirement of the previous owner last year.

Ricky Delaney, a blacksmithing and metalwork lecturer at Plumpton College, said: “Blacksmiths forges are a rare commodity and the loss of such a prolific site as the East Chiltington Forge would be an irreplaceable loss within the blacksmithing community.

“Small workshops like this are an important first step for establishing successful small rural blacksmithing businesses.”

To see the plans yourself search for planning application LW/16/1045 on www,lewes.gov.uk.

Photos courtesy of James Price and The Rowland Emett Society.

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