St Clements Day at Finch Foundry

I went to Finch Foundry in Sticklepath yesterday. It was ‘St Clements Day’ – the patron saint of blacksmiths. As a result blacksmith come from near and far to compete in a fun little competition to make an item in a set period of time. Some of the blacksmiths are very experienced whilst other are learning their trade. You can see my full photo set here.

A candle holder in the making

A snail

Amazingly high quality metal beating – the green man

Inside the Foundry

Dave Denford preparing to ‘fire the anvil’

And good to see an old friend – Roger Boney – the previous Foundry Manager

A great day – well done to Ben and his team of staff and volunteers

Finch Foundry’s dragonfly mystery

At the end of June Ben our Foundry Manager at Finch Foundry photographed the following picture.

finch golden ringed
You need to get your eye in – there is a large dragonfly and it looks like it has just caught a brown smaller insect. Well – what has happened is the dragonfly has just emerged from the ‘brown insect’ after having lived in the stream for around 3 years as a larvae! The dragonfly isn’t very brightly coloured yet as it has only just emerged and is ‘blowing’ itself up.

exuviae 1
Ben collected the ‘brown insect’ for me. It is called an exuviae – the vacated exoskeleton on the dragonfly larvae

exuviae 2
It is now entirely hollow as the dragonfly has emerged but as you can see it bears all the features if the larvae – look at the jaws – dragonfly larvae are very active predators

exuviae 3
The close us detail even shows the hairs on the legs

Golden ringed dragonfly 1Once the dragonfly has had a chance to ‘blow itself’ up its wings become extended and the colours develop. This is another dragonfly of the same species – this one taken last year at Lydford Gorge. It is a golden ringed dragonfly which is one of Dartmoor’s classic species.

Finch Foundry is in Sticklepath on the northern edge of the moor – it is the last working water powered forge in England and is the doorway to Dartmoor’s industrial past. Visit Finch Foundry to experience the sights, sounds and smells of three thundering water wheels powering massive hammers, shears and sharpening stone. These fuelled one of the South West’s most successful edge tool factories which, at its peak, produced around 400 edge tools a day. You can get an insight into the life of workers in the 19th century and learn about the enterprising Finch family. More details here – well worth a visit and of course there is interesting wildlife to see and a lovely little garden – see here.

Finch Foundry’s beautiful garden

We held our Dartmoor Senior Leadership Team meeting at Finch Foundry yesterday – I got there early so I could take a few photographs of the garden.

Finch's garden
The garden is very colourful at the moment and is looked after by Catherine, an NT volunteer and her two assistants Sheryl and Mike – they do an excellent job – thank you

Alstroemeria aura Peruvian Lilly –  I love the markings

A red monbretia

Briza major
The Quaking Grass – Briza major

Tree bumblebee
The garden also attracts lots of insects – here is a tree bumblebee – a species that has only recently arrived in the UK. See here for further details of the arrival of the tree bumblebee

Soldier beetles
A mating pair of the very common soldier beetle Rhagonycha fulva

Rutpela maculataAnd the black and yellow longhorn beetle Rutpela maculata

Finch Foundry is well worth a visit – see a bit of old industrial Devon and a beautiful garden – see here for more details.

Finch Foundry’s insects and plants

Had a meeting at Finch Foundry yesterday with Ben the Manager. Afterwards I had a quick look around the garden and managed to photograph some interesting insects and plants.

Finch bee fly 1 Bee fly (Bombylius major)  on a Vinca. Bee flies are common in Devon and in the lower parts of Dartmoor at this time of year. They have an interesting lifestyle and I have written about them before – see here.

Finch bee fly 2 Close up of the proboscis of the bee fly feeding on a blue grape hyacinth. It is a fly mimicking a common carder bumblebee

Helophilus FinchThe hoverfly Helophilus pendulous on an ox eye daisy

Finch flower Blue grape hyacinth

Finch primrosePrimroses

Finch wheelsAnd of course a bit of machinery!

Finch Foundy, Start of Season and repairs

We had our Finch Foundry Start of Season meeting for staff and volunteers yesterday – lots of new faces  – welcome everyone.

Finch SoS5Here is Ben the Foundry Manager running through the agenda

Finch SoS4Behind the scenes various repairs to the machinery and waterwheels are taking place – these bolts have rusted through on the hammer waterwheel

Finch SoS2They are being replaced with some new stainless steel ones

Finch SoS1Specially manufactured for Finch Foundry in Exeter

Finch SoS3Eddie one of our building team has been working on the water wheels and in this picture he has inserted some wedges to help the wheel run true

Finch Foundry opens for the season on the 14th March

A waterfall at Finch Foundry

I was at Finch Foundry a couple of days ago helping with the interviewing of some potential staff for the coming season. We had a break in between interviews so I popped out to take some pictures of the waterfall at the top of the launder at Finch.

Foundry Waterfall 2Every now and again I like taking long exposure photos!

Foundry Waterfall 3Ditto


Foundry Waterfall 4Back through the launder – I like the chocolate brown and copper light under the timbers

Finch’s small tortoiseshell

I found this butterfly when I was leaving Finch Foundry the other day. It is a perfectly preserved small tortoiseshell butterfly. One of the commonest species in the country but nevertheless a very attractive one too.

Small T 1I fear that living on the stairs in the Rope Loft just proved too cold when the sun wasn’t shining through the window and in the end the weather got the better of it. On the brighter side all small tortoiseshell butterflies hibernate as adults and I guess it’s the ones that you don’t see that survive the winter.