BLACKSMITH Colin Butler has retired after forging a 35-year career at a Huddersfield quarry.

Mr Butler joined Johnsons Wellfield Quarries at Crosland Hill in 1965 and was a quarryman before joining the maintenance staff.

For the past 25 years, he has been the company's resident blacksmith - making thousands of tools for his workmates.

Mr Butler, who lives at Rawthorpe, was asked to take over as blacksmith when his predecessor retired.

He said: "I was not best pleased at first, because I'd never done it before. I struggled a bit at first, but gradually I got into it."

He added: "It is a dying trade. There are not a lot of blacksmiths left.

"But Johnson's have always made their own tools. I must have made thousands of tools, such as hammers, chisels, masonry tools and drill pieces."

Mr Butler, 67, had one spell away from the quarry - when he worked as an overhead crane operator at David Brown's Lockwood works for about three years.

"It was all right, but I missed being outdoors," he said. "The best thing about being a blacksmith is that you are left alone to get on with the job. You are more or less your own boss."

He retired officially two years ago - but was persuaded to return part-time.

Mr Butler exhibited his craftsmanship at the Great Yorkshire Show and twice won prizes.

Ian Baxter, who is taking over as blacksmith at the quarry, presented Mr Butler with a pair of gold cufflinks and an certificate from the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths in London.

Mr Butler, a keen gardener, also received garden centre gift tokens from workmates.

Mr Butler and his wife Mary have a son, three daughters and 10 grandchildren.

Mr Baxter, 35, who lives at Northowram, near Halifax, joined Johnson's six years ago, but has been a blacksmith since leaving school.

He said: "The blacksmith was always a respected member of the community because his work was essential.

"Once, every quarry would have had its own blacksmith, but Johnson's is about the only quarry that still has a working blacksmith."

He said: "We still use the same machinery and tools - the forge and anvil. Some of the tools are 80 or 90 years old. A lot of the work still involves bashing metal with a hammer - although we now fit tungsten tips into the chisels."