In advance of his appearance at our Social Club on 13 March, Jim Ghedi introduces the new video for ‘Phoenix Works’, taken from his recently released second album ‘A Hymn for Ancient Land’
“My scythe and hammer lies reclin’d
My bellows too have lost their wind
My iron is spent, my steel is gone
My scythes are set, my work is done
My fires extinct, my forge decay’d
My body in the dust is laid”
– (Scythe worker, Joseph Rippon).
In the heart of the Moss Valley sits the village of Ridgeway and the hamlet of Ford, pre-eminent for several hundred years in the industry of scythe and sickle-making. The earliest records of productivity date back to 1459. The above is the sole surviving verse from a poem by Joseph Rippon, one of the Scythe workers at Phoenix Works; the rest of it has been destroyed over time. The artifact inspired the writing of the song and was collected from Ridgeway History group after being donated by Joseph Rippon’s son. The making of this video took over a year of filming and editing by myself and filmmaker/photographer Scott Hukins, with huge help from Garland Films, blacksmiths at Ridgeway Forge, and with kind permission to use local archive footage from ‘The Derby Tup’, taken in the winters of 1971 & 1972.
The photograph at the end of the film shows the Phoenix Works some time before 1899, with the 1822 extension already built. Unfortunately no specific date could be found, but further information is available at ridgewayhistory.org.uk.
Glimpses of history weave themselves throughout the video with fragments of background locality, as well as footage from the 70s of a local group performing in several pubs in the village. However, it is the modern day which holds the focal point: a local musician takes quiet, solitary walks within its current landscape, as well as venturing into a blacksmith’s forge, which, although hidden, is still very much still the beating heart of this community’s togetherness and productivity. The remnants of history somehow creep into our landscape and you can still envisage glimpses of these older traditions & industries. Whether just imagined by looking at the moss-coated stone rubble on a Sunday walk, or discovering a local working forge while rambling down a forgotten pathway, it strangely shapes our imagination in places so close to home.
Watch the video below. You can buy tickets for our March Social Club here.
All historical pictures of the Phoenix Works and its workers are posted with kind permission of ridgewayhistory.org.uk.