FRANK DEAN, the Rodmell blacksmith, died on Monday 27 7 04

I never knew Frank as well as I should have, I studied his evening classes 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 example.

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 beloved forge.

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 August. A widower, Mr Dean leaves three children, Sandra, Pauline and Roger and 11 grand children. 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 greatly missed.' 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 customers personally.

29 July 2004
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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 accompanying photo.


Allan Horne

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