Blacksmith Alan Evans from Stroud dies of pancreatic cancer

Fellow blacksmith Peter Parkinson has penned the following obituary. 

Alan Evans was born in a Quaker family, in Whiteway Colony Stroud, where the spirit of the Arts and Crafts Movement was well understood.

His father made furniture and his mother was a woodcarver.

Alan took a teacher-training course at Shoreditch College of Education, as an insurance, should all else fail.

In 1974 he began making jewellery in the workshop of Worcestershire blacksmith Alan Knight, in exchange for help with his heavier work.

Stroud News and Journal:

This was a formative opportunity and in 1978 Alan (Evans) set-up his own blacksmithing workshop in Whiteway, at a period when an inspirational time for blacksmithing was about to begin. 

Alan’s name appears on the first British Artists Blacksmith Association membership list, published in May 1980, and he made waves ever since.

From small beginnings – fire tools, fire grates, small gates – Alan entered a design competition for gates for the new Treasury in the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral. Alan won the competition and the commission.

Stroud News and Journal:

The outcome was a large and remarkable pair of centre-pivoted gates, a piece of work that gave notice of things to come.

The gates have a striking and unconventional structure, a web of joints and riveted connections, its geometry echoing the curves and intersections of the vaulted stone ceiling above. 

He reportedly said of his transition from jewellery to blacksmithing, that it was “just a matter of using a bigger hammer.”

Similarly, from small scale blacksmithing to large, demanded an even bigger hammer – a power hammer, which Alan had earlier acquired and learned to use with great precision and delicacy, to forge for example, ladle-shaped chestnut roasters and even stainless steel teaspoons.

Stroud News and Journal:

Alan was at the forefront of a period in which a broad, radical and joyful approach, trying things out, finding new ways and forms, transformed ‘decorative’ blacksmithing in Britain from a traditional craft using strictly traditional motifs, to a contemporary creative activity.

Alan was part of an international “family” of blacksmiths, encouraging and helping each other with the work, seeking to push the boundaries.

Stroud News and Journal:


Over the years Alan provided work experience to numbers of young people from Europe and America and demonstrated in masterclasses in both continents.

The skill of hammering hot metal is only part of blacksmithing, alongside this is imagination, creativity, design, experiment, judgement, problem-solving, an integrity of making and  – as the work gets bigger – confidence.

Alan grew with all of these and added a pioneering spirit which led him into 3D computer drafting, well before it became a standard for engineers and architects. 

His stated work ethic was never to let anything leave the forge unless he was entirely happy with it.

He was never put off by complexity, or the working of large, heavy steel sections, although his search for quality and integrity in design usually stretched beyond the allocated budget.

His work is distinctive, and sometimes huge.

It is also courageous and remarkable, not least since he worked in a well-equipped, but relatively small workshop, well off the beaten track in rural Stroud.

Among numbers of inventive and sculptural pieces of work, the large commissions inevitably stand out.

These include a wonderfully complex cross on the top of the Ecumenical Church in Milton Keynes; an ‘Art and Crafts’ Grille over the entrance to Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum; striking Ventilation Grilles around the Health Authority building in Cardiff Bay; a large sculptural screen in Broadgate in the City of London; and perhaps most of all railings, gates and balustrading for the Public Record Office at Kew. 

In each case these titles fail entirely to suggest the striking and impressive qualities of the work.

In Stroud one of his very first projects was the small entrance gate to the Painswick Quaker Meeting House.

It is a tribute to Alan, his wife Lesley and to the family of blacksmithing, that so many people visited him in his last few days. 

We will miss him but must be content that – as blacksmiths do – he has left us his own remarkable memorial.

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