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Black Country Living Museum's veteran chainmaker retires after years of passing on skills

A chainmaker who has helped keep tradition alive at the Black Country Living Museum for 30 years is finally hanging up his hammer to take an early retirement.

Chain-maker Kevin Lowe is hanging up his hammer
Chain-maker Kevin Lowe is hanging up his hammer

Kevin Lowe started at the Dudley-based attraction in 1992 as a volunteer and when the opportunity came for him to learn how to forge chain and nails, he eagerly took it on.

But now he has said his goodbye after playing a "pivotal" role at the site in passing on his skills to a whole host of new chainmakers before he left.

Kevin said his favourite thing about chainmaking was “being able to pass on the skills, as well as enjoying the job and the people. I’ve never woken up in the morning and not wanted to go to work.”

He said his lasting impressions of the museum were "friendly staff" and watching the site develop, before adding: "Don’t worry, I’m going to come back – I want a pint in the Elephant and Castle and I will have some fish and chips, which I haven’t done for a very long time."

His role was pivotal to creating the immersive environment the museum is known for. And as a metalworker – principally a chainmaker – he demonstrated on a daily basis one of the many crafts which anchored the Black Country to the centre of the industrial revolution.

Metalworker Sebastian 'Seb' Edwards was trained by Kevin, having joined as a volunteer several years ago. He said: "Not many people can say they’re a chainmaker, a Black Country chainmaker. To be one of the rare few to make chain at BCLM, while learning from Kev (and subsequently the people that he learnt from) makes me feel more connected to the history of the Black Country.

“It’ll be a real shame to see him gone. But no one ever really leaves the museum, they always come back to visit because it’s like being part of a family.”

BCLM’s head of people and culture Suki Baden said Kevin's "skills and passion as a volunteer ultimately led to a tremendous career, with many colleagues benefitting from his knowledge, expertise and the enthusiasm for nail making and many other heritage skills".

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