A typical day, or not so typical day

Ben Shapcott, Foundry Manager, Finch Foundry, Devon

The first job of the day is checking my emails, before moving on to getting the wheels turning and lighting the forge in time for opening to visitors

Getting the forge ready can take anywhere between one to two hours depending on whether anything needs sorting out. Sometimes the water flow needs adjusting, a belt has come off, something is making a noise it shouldn't, or I just need to do some additional maintenance.

When other members of the conservation team arrive, I update them all on what's coming up in the next day or two and whether we have any volunteers in. Back to the office to raise a few orders for much needed supplies, rattle off a few replies to emails and have a cup of tea.

A volunteer's helping me do the talks today and I've just had a message to say one of the belts has come off - so down I go to manoeuvre it back on, which is quite a task. The belts are made of woven polyamide and are very large to handle on your own. Everything working again, it's upstairs for lunch and a cup of tea.

Back in the office, it's paperwork again - looking at risk assessments, updating returns on things such as the water abstraction levels for the Environment Agency and meetings with our consultants or my manager. I take some telephone calls and go down to the forge to talk through some upcoming events with our Visitor Experience Manager and answer any questions the staff or volunteers have. If I need to, this is a good time to check in with any volunteer gardeners who are in and have a quick look around in case anything needs doing. I often do a talk and demonstration at the end of the day to relieve my volunteer, demonstrate some forging and check over the machinery before we close.

When the time comes, I switch off all the machinery and oilers, turn down the fire, disengage the grinding stone and empty the launder. Finally, it's time to lock all the gates and shut up shop. We then have one last chat about how the day has gone and what's in line for tomorrow, before locking up the office. I do a quick visual check and leave Finch ready to start another day.

As you can probably tell, no one day is the same as another. I wonder what challenges I'll face tomorrow ...

by Ben Shapcott, Foundry Manager