18 years ago
at Plumptom College for only two terms. Even more than the considerable
amount of information that he taught was the enthusiasm he imparted to so
many other amateurs like me. Some other professional blacksmiths I have met
seem to take the attitude that their craft is a closely guarded secret.
Frank was always ready to show you how to do something, the right way, and
explain why that was the right way to go about the job. He always had a
smile on his face and amusing and interesting stories to tell.
I think he was just a young man of 68 when he taught me and had already
retired about three times. (One night a big farmer and I were hammering for
him and we were both near collapse - he had not even broken into a sweat.)
The following article from the Susses Express shows that he was still
working right up until his death. He was one of those people who I was glad
to meet because he affected not only my blacksmithing hobby but my outlook
on life. One of those people who made the world a better place by his
From the Sussex Express - (Lewes Edition) 30 7 04
[for non UK readers - Lewes is the County town of East Sussex UK)
Death of blacksmith
FRANK Dean, the Rodmell blacksmith, died on Monday, a stone's throw from his
Mr Dean, 87, had put in a full day's work making iron railings and then
taken his border collie Layla into the back garden for a stroll.
A neighbour spotted him soon afterwards on the ground and called paramedics.
He was pronounced dead.
A post mortem is to be held.
A memorial service will take place in the village church at the end of
A widower, Mr Dean leaves three children, Sandra, Pauline and Roger and 11
The Dean family connection with Rodmell began in 1910 when Frank's father
Christopher took over the forge.
Now in charge of the forge is Roger and his son (Frank's grandson) Stephen
makes up the fourth generation at the furnace.
Said Pauline: 'Frank appeared to be in his usual good health on Monday. He
even worked a hard day at the forge.
'He had a long and happy life and was very much loved his family. He will be
Friend, customer and former pupil Paul Millmore said: 'Frank was one of the
characters that gives Sussex its flavour.
'He was an artist in his work and had a real Sussex sense of humour.'
Frank started work for his father in 1932 at the age of 15, starting at 7am
and getting 2s/6d a week.
His book Strike While The Iron's Hot is a Sussex classic.
He relates that he had no apprenticeship but his father, with the sardonic
humour for which Sussex people are famous, would come out with the
occasional piece of advice, such as: 'Never stand behind a horse or in front
of a judge.'
The Deans started selling petrol in 1930. They paid the suppliers £10 1s 6d
for 200 gallons and sold it at around 1s 6d a gallon.
Frank only closed down his pumps a decade ago and he always served his
29 July 2004
I'm not sure how long this URL is valid for - hence I pasted the article
(sorry about the font size- copy it into Notepad or Word) but not the