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Meet James Godbold

James Godbold, Blacksmith ©VisitBritain/Sam BarkerJames Godbold, Blacksmith ©VisitBritain/Sam Barker

James Godbold designs and manufactures wrought iron goods using both traditional blacksmithing skills and modern techniques from his workshop in the village of Egton, a charming place set within the Esk Valley and inland from the renowned seaside town of Whitby.

In this film, he tells us how North York Moors inspires his work.

Be inspired by the North York Moors…

Following James’s film, we want to share some ideas for exploring the wonderful North York Moors. You’ll find more ideas across our Meet the Makers series.

Explore the beauty and heritage of the Esk Valley

James’ workshop in Egton is situated in the stunning Esk Valley. The name ‘Esk’ stems from an ancient Celtic word ‘Isca’, meaning water or stream, and the bubbling River Esk runs through the base of the valley, through bluebell woods, past ancient stone trods (or pathways), prehistoric earthworks and medieval packhorse bridges.

Esk Valley Walk, River Esk near Glaisdale Credit NYMNPA

Stroll the fabulous 5 mile (8km) circular walk between Glaisdale and Egton Bridge to uncover the beauty and history of the valley, especially on the upper stretches where the high farmland offers wonderful views. Both Glaisdale and Egton Bridge are stops on the Esk Valley Railway, a 35 mile (56km) route passing through some of the North York Moors most spectacular scenery.

Discover the history of blacksmithing and the rural crafts of the North York Moors

Blacksmithing was for many years an essential service in every village and town in England, with the local blacksmith making an immense variety of common objects used in everyday life: from nails and screws to agricultural tools. Industrialisation saw the demand for their services decline and the village blacksmith almost disappeared after World War II with the advent of farming mechanisation.

Visit Ryedale Folk Museum in the village of Hutton le Hole for an incredible opportunity to step back in time to the sights, sounds and smells of the traditional blacksmith workshop.

Traditional blacksmith workshop, Ryedale Folk Museum Credit

Visitors to the six-acre outdoor museum can also explore a medieval crofter’s cottage, thatched Elizabethan Manor House, a Victorian thatched cottage, washhouse and dairy, and the traditional workshops of the cobbler, wheelwright, tinsmith, cooper, saddler and carpenter. It’s a marvellous way to gain an insight into the evolution of rural life in the North York Moors over the centuries.

Have a go at the ancient art of blacksmithing

Try the ancient art of blacksmithing with David Stephenson, an artist and blacksmith based in Lockton on the edge of Dalby Forest who runs short courses throughout the year. The art of blacksmithing has seen a resurgence in recent years with artisan blacksmiths creating decorative pieces and public art works - experience the technique to gain a deeper appreciation of the art.

Blacksmithing © VisitBritain Sam Barker

Have a close encounter with the flora and fauna of the North York Moors

Makers such as James often find inspiration in the flora and fauna here, but also along the heritage coastline of the National Park’s eastern edge. The waters off the coast are a haven for sea life and become a hive of activity in summer and early autumn; with minke and humpback whales, white beaked dolphins and porpoises.

For an unforgettable experience, join an expert guide from Yorkshire Coast Nature, Whitby Whale Watching or Three Sisters Sea Trips for a wildlife watching boat trip to ensure you have the best chance of seeing these awesome creatures up close. A waterproof camera is a must!

Back on dry land, deepen your connection to nature by enjoying one of Hidden Horizons or Trailblazer Wildcraft's range of courses in outdoor skills, from wilderness survival to foraging and woodland cooking.

Where to enjoy James’s work in the North York Moors

Godbold Blacksmith Showroom, Egton

Why not visit James’ large and industrious showroom and forge to gain greater insight into the visceral process behind some of the finest blacksmithing? If you pre-book, you'll have the opportunity to enter the workshop and see the blacksmiths in action.

James' blacksmith workshop ©VisitBritain Sam Barker;

Wish Dragon, The Moors National Park Centre, Danby

Stroll along the Riverside Trail at The Moors National Park Centre and you'll encounter a five-metre long dragon, the result of a collaboration between James and another of our makers, Steve Iredale. Commissioned by the North York Moors National Park, James made the metal scales for the oak body of the mythical dragon, which sits within a range of other wildlife sculptures along the trail.

Wish dragon at The Moors National Park Centre Credit Polly Baldwin

Fin the Fish, South Bay, Scarborough (spring/summer only)

Journey to South Bay in Scarborough to view James’s commission; a giant 5m long hollow fish sculpture produced to highlight how plastic pollution continues to damage marine organisms along British shores.

Find out more about James’s work

James’ website is a fantastic resource to view more of his work. Follow him on Facebook and Instagram to receive previews of his new work and exhibition news.