I Remember The Bellows


I grew up in a staunch Methodist household, the son of the village blacksmith and farrier, living and working on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors.

Two abiding memories of my early years were –

 on weekdays, of pumping the bellows to maintain the heat of the fire in my father’s forge, and

 on Sundays, of being concealed behind the chapel organ, pumping the bellows to maintain the air to the pipes during the hymn singing.

For good or ill, BELLOWS thus became a significant part of my childhood, and I recently recalled these formative experiences in the following, light-hearted verses.




Arms activate,

Biceps bulge.

I remember the bellows.

Let my memory indulge.


The forge and the furnace bellows2

The farrier’s tools.

His anvil, his hammers,

His tongs and ferrules.


I build up the heat

Till the iron is blood-shot,

And molten and moulded –

Into what shape I know not.


The pipes and the console,EarlyPumpOrgan

The organist’s tools.

His feet and his fingers

Obey all the rules.


I build up the wind

In the pipes till they sound

Out their diapason

To all those around.


It’s weekdays the smithy,

And Sundays the Chapel.

A slave to them both,

And all that for an apple.


Whilst I labour discretely,

And pump up and down,

They can’t do without me –

Best  aerator in town.





6 thoughts on “I Remember The Bellows

  1. Your poem ‘I Remember the Bellows’ arouses a few memories. Eg: When I was a choir boy in the early 1940s the elderly ‘organ pumper’ employed by our church would sometimes fail to turn up for a service and one of us would have to stand in for him – quite hard work! I also recall that he occasionally nodded off during sermons and had to be woken up!


  2. Very interesting Roland…..I played a pump organ in my teens at the Church in Guisborough…..my legs did all the work to keep it going!! If I slowed down the sound fizzled . B.


  3. Pingback: I Remember The Bellows | Roland's Ragbag

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