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Eveleigh blacksmith shop threatened

Chris Sulis is a disciple of the lost art of blacksmithing reports Sandra Fonseca in Central of 20th August 2008.

He learned a traditional approach to metalwork through his apprenticeship with Wrought Artworks, at Eveleigh’s historic blacksmith shop.

The workshop is now set to close after a decision by the Redfern Waterloo Authority to evict its tenants.

“I was lucky I could do my apprenticeship in such a historic workshop,” Mr Sulis said.

“The training was exceptional.”

Mr Sulis became a qualified blacksmith last year and has stayed on in the workshop.

“It’s a really good feeling when someone asks you to make something and you can do it out of such a crazy material such as metal.

“They taught me respect for the old school ways, instead of just cut and weld, they instilled a bit of pride in our work.

“It’s a good place to be.”

Mr Sulis said he didn’t believe he could have received the same training elsewhere and was upset it may close.

“There’s nothing at all ever like this; even just the shop itself. The machinery here, not many other people work with, and my boss being a third generation blacksmith has got all the knowledge in his head, its just a matter of draining it out and putting it in my head”, he said.

The Blacksmithing shop threw open its doors to the public on Sunday in an effort to highlight the shops plight. More than 2000 visitors poured through the site. Among them were many former workers who returned to lend their support.

A public meeting held on the day passed a number of resolutions including a national heritage listing for the site, a possible Green Ban and for the Premier and RWA to reconsider selling the site for development.

Part owner Guido Gouverneur has operated out of the Eveleigh Large Erecting Workshop for the past 17 years, and has vowed to take legal action against the Redfern Waterloo Authority to prevent their imminent eviction.

“Promises were made to us and we want them upheld,” Mr Gouverneur said.

Mr Gouverneur said that if the eviction stuck, it would probably mean the end of his business. “I don’t think we’d survive. The type of work I do is so labour intensive. I couldn’t afford a commercial lease.”