The Blacksmith’s Journey

Foundation Years

Martin’s relationship with metal started at a very young age. It was his introduction to metalwork at school that forged his career path for the next 50 years. Martin’s fondest memories of high school were what was known as Manual Arts, and he can still tell you the names of his teachers and claim that they played a big part in his path toward Metals.

When Martin asked one of his teachers what they thought he should do when he left school the answer was ‘are you serious, metal is your thing!”

In 1979, at the age of 15yrs, Martin started an apprenticeship as a Boilermaker/Welder which gave him the foundation to build his entire career. On his twentieth birthday, Martin was granted his trade papers. The 1980s offered the perfect environment for growth in the manufacturing sector and tradesmen were well-sought-after. Martin spent the next ten years going from job to job in the heavy fabrication industry, spending about 18 months at each company to acquire as many skills and knowledge as possible.

During these ten years, Martin also engaged in a lot of post-trade studies at TAFE to enhance his skills and knowledge. The exposure to TAFE, and its teaching structure, appealed to him, and Martin started to put in place the skills needed to become a TAFE teacher.

Teaching Years

In 1993, Martin successfully applied for a teaching position as a Boilermaker/Welder at a TAFE in Brisbane. Martin’s teaching skills started to be developed at this stage. Whilst he believes teaching the trade didn’t change over the next three decades, it was people’s desire to learn that did. As a result, he developed a very broad repertoire of training and delivery skills. On one of Martin’s social media platforms, there is a handwritten letter from an elderly teacher who had spent time under Martin’s tuition learning Blacksmithing and he, himself, had 50 years of teaching experience under his belt. He described Martin as “one of the best”.

In 1994, Martin had his first exposure to Blacksmithing which forged a chain of events that is ongoing today. Two years later Martin commenced a Bachelor of Adult Vocational Education and has now been a registered teacher for over twenty years.

From the early 2000s, and over the next 20 years, Martin excelled in all aspects of his chosen metal trades, Boilermaking, Welding, and Blacksmithing. He became trade-qualified in all three metal disciplines which is a unique and rare achievement. Martin’s skill set in welding placed him as a Welding Assessor for many years with Weld Australia, which forms the highest level of welding standards not just in Australia, but on an international platform.

Martin is often heard saying that it is Blacksmithing that has got him out of bed for the past 30 years. He has spent hundreds and hundreds of hours engaging in just about all aspects of the trade and travelled and worked around the world with other Blacksmiths.

Martin has made it his business to challenge himself and constantly improve his skills and knowledge. He believes that is the way it should be because Blacksmithing is the grandfather to all the metal trades. It has never been just about skills and knowledge. It is about respect for our Blacksmith forefathers who paved the way and allowed us to experience this amazing trade.

In late 2019, the Blacksmith trade calling was reinstated at a national level, and it was at this time Martin applied for the trade title due to his background and the skills and knowledge he acquired over many years. He was successful. Several years before this, Martin recognised that the National Blacksmith descriptors that govern what is required for the Blacksmith apprentice to become trade qualified needed to be reassessed and updated.

Advisory Years

For the last several years Martin has found himself in an advisory role to Blacksmith training and delivery and in conjunction with this role, has produced valuable resources specific to the Blacksmith trade. These resources are currently used in QLD.

Not just recognising the shortfalls in the National descriptors for Blacksmithing, Martin is currently in an advisory position to Manufacturing Skills Alliance (MISA) and liaising with individuals and groups based in each State to keep them abreast with the change process related to these descriptors.

When interviewing Martin, it was clear that his enthusiasm and passion for the Blacksmith trade has not and will not waiver. He will continue to ensure that the trade is well represented for its skills and knowledge for future generations.

Research and interviews by

Michelle Eyles. 2024