NOSTALGIA: Browning’s blacksmith shop, Southgate Street - from the Spanton Jarman collection

Browning's Blacksmith shop - from the Spanton Jarman collection

Alfred and Charles Browning, father and son, worked at these premises in Southgate Street, Bury St Edmunds, from at least 1892 until the 1940s.

The photograph could have been taken any time in that period. The section of the blacksmith’s shop with the horses outside is now no 81 and the plain gable to the right is the former Plough Inn – mentioned in St Mary’s Parish Land Tax book of 1759 – which was closed in 1917 by Greene King.

-- This picture is part of a remarkable collection of 4,000 photographs in the care of Bury St Edmunds Past and Present Society which offers a glimpse into the town’s history.

Taken by two families of professional photographers, the Spantons and the Jarmans, the images span a period from the 1860s through to the outbreak of World War Two. The fragile glass plate negatives were donated to the society in 1997 and in recent years many of these have been ‘digitised’ thanks to a Lottery grant and donations. They can be viewed at where you can also find details about membership and the group’s programme of events and lectures. The Spanton-Jarman collection is held at the Bury St Edmunds branch of the Suffolk Record Office. For more details about the Record Office, including its programme of talks and courses, visit

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