Follow along as we rebuild six structures to show the site as it looked in the late 1770s when James Anderson was the Public Armourer for the new Commonwealth of Virginia.
Visit Reconstructed Armoury
Urgency of war prompts joint effort
The blacksmith shop and armoury reflects the activity present during the Revolution, with trades working together in support of the American war effort. The site re-creates the industrial complex owned and operated by James Anderson, appointed public armourer in 1776 by the General Assembly of the newly independent Commonwealth of Virginia. In the immediate wake of his appointment, Anderson began to enlarge his small, commercial blacksmithing operation into an extensive and diverse public manufactory.
The newly reconstructed main armoury building includes four blacksmith forges and the recently reconstructed kitchen. Reconstruction of the tin shop and several other buildings on the site will continue for another year. When complete, the site will include the armoury, the kitchen, a tinsmith's shop, an outdoor forge, a work shop, two storage buildings, a privy, a bake oven and a wellhead.
Coal fire heated iron bars
A blacksmith's forge consisted of a raised brick hearth outfitted with bellows to feed its soft-coal fire and a hood to carry away the smoke. The forge heated bars of iron yellow-hot. With his journeymen and apprentices, the blacksmith used sledges weighing as much as 12 pounds to hammer the heated bars into various shapes.
From steel, he made tempered cutting edges for axes and smooth faces for special hammers.
Items made for homes and other tradesmen
Blacksmiths in Williamsburg fashioned items from iron and steel for fellow tradesmen to use in their work and also made things for household use. Among the tools blacksmiths used were the following:
The reconstruction of Anderson's Blacksmith Shop and Public Armoury was made possible by a generous gift from Forrest E. Mars Jr.