The Lost Skills - Foundry & Heavy Manufacturing.

During World War 2, the German U-Boat packs almost succeeded in defeating Britain by simply cutting off supply. One thing that saved Britain was her (and Canadas) ability to quickly convert a thousand assembly lines to produce enormous amounts of vital equipment. (Uniforms, guns, tanks, even socks)
The point is, in 1939, Britain, Canada and America HAD thousands of varied assembly lines! Today, most of the developed Nations DO NOT have anywhere near the number or variety of assembly lines to withstand a prolonged 'denial of supply'.. [Read Article.. read article
Today, almost all nations are totally dependent on imports or a very distant facility for the supply of the necessities of life!

Since the Stone Age, every 100 years or so, every community faces a major loss of infrastructure due to a war or natural catastrophe.. Every time, the people struggle to find some 'old-timers' with the skills to build a bridge using a broad axe or the skills to forge some iron tools.
In all these historical cases, the people had grown overly dependent on imports for all the 'necessities of life' and had lost the basic manufacturing skills of their grand-fathers.

We propose a National plan to restore the nations heritage manufacturing plants and initiate 'Trade Education' programs at each of these plants.

We propose that every 17 year old do a series of three week training courses in several selected trades at these restored plants. They would live 'on-site' in supervised barracks; They would be trained by the many retired master-craftsmen who once worked in these plants; They would be able to select several trades from the many trades that were once practiced there; The 'master-craftsmen' would be assisted by those who had graduated from these courses.
As these sites develop, able-bodied "work for the dole" people could also be required to undertake this training and work about 20 hours per week producing 'goods' or training others.

A good example of such a "heritage manufacturing plant" is the Ipswich Railway Workshops in Queensland Australia. (shown below)

Ipsw Rail Workshops

Read more on the Ipswich Museum complex..

The Museum features the many trades that were required to build and maintain a National Railway system. Visitors are guided thru several workshops where incredibly skilled 'elder tradesmen' still ply vital (but almost forgotten) skills and trades!

Steam Tour2

It seems every 100 weeks, a "once in a 100 year" weather event comes along and destroys millions of dollars worth of infrastructure! (bridges, jetties, railway tracks)
Rural communities often wait years for these things to be restored by National agencies. Local councils aided by volunteers could repair these things within weeks if only 0.1% of the local population knew these "Lost Skills" displayed by the 'old-timers' at the Ipswich Railway Workshops!

Timber Cutting is a very popular international sport. People love to watch a great Axeman! Many rural areas have monthly clubs where Medieval warfare skills (Chain mail; Sword forging; Sword play; Trebuchet building etc.) are practiced..
Mankind loves to learn and watch the old manual skills.
We propose that every rural town have monthly activities where Disaster recovery trades are taught and practiced.
This would require..
* Mentoring from the master-craftsmen at the few remaining 'Heritage Workshops'.
* Facilities at local showgrounds where raw material would be stockpiled and "bridge building" competitions and 'black-smith' classes could be held.
* These stockpiles would include logs and lumber for bridges and cabins; steel plate & bar; firewood for steam power; charcoal for mobile forges; cement etc.
* Government funding from the 'Disaster Relief' pool to provide & equip these facilities. (The cost of these facilities would be paid back many fold with every natural disaster.)
* Mobile Plant that can be Trailer mounted.. Eg. Forges & Anvils; Steam driven compressors and electrical generators; Lumber cutting and milling.

These facilities could be of great benefit to rural areas all year round..
* Affordable Housing via 'Split Log' cabins..
* Building and Maintaining farm livestock facilities..
* Building and Maintaining Playgrounds, Parks & Benches, Walking Trails etc.
* And thus - Fulfilling, exciting Jobs for the unemployed. And, a Heritage Preserved.


Blacksmith Hammer

Sparks & Boilers

Plate Rolling

The official 'Development Proposal' for the Ipswich Workshops & Rail Museum has the following points..
* Training and education; heritage artisan skills training..
* Many permanent jobs will be created for the region..
* A unique world class tourist destination...
* Private sector partnership opportunities..
[Read the full Article.. read article


The Lost Skills - Timber & the Broad Axe.

After Hurricane Katrina, it took years to repair the hundreds of local bridges. A dozen 'old-timers' on a Railway crew could built a bridge like the one below in 3 weeks. They didn't need Power tools, just Broad Axes and a mobile Blacksmith.
If only all those Louisiana towns each had a dozen 'Broad Axe'men!

Rail Bridge 8


This amazing wooden bridge was also built by 'Broad Axe'men and Blacksmiths.

Rail Bridge 1880

(British Columbia, Canada. 1880. Photo by Norman Denley.)

Below - The many types of 'Broad Axe'..

Broad Axes


A 'work in progress' peer review welcome.