Holkham Forge commissioned to design Crime Writers’ Association awards

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Two Norfolk blacksmiths have been drawn into the world of murder, mystery and mayhem and the secret of their involvement will be revealed this evening at London’s Hotel Russell.

James Speeding and Roger Foster, at the Holkham Forge, have crafted the nine awards to be presented to this year’s top mystery writers at the Crime Writers’ Association dinner.

The awards are considered to be crime fiction’s highest honour. It’s an award that in previous years has gone to the some of literature’s finest authors. Past winners include PD James, Frederick Forsyth and Ian Rankin.

“To receive a Dagger is the top accolade a writer can get for their work in the crime writing genre,” said association director, Lucy Santos. “A special prize needs to be crafted by a specialist. I was delighted to commission James at Holkham Forge.”

“The commission came out of the blue in March,” said James Speeding. “It was a mystery how they chose us.”

But as specialist blacksmiths it was a job they were more than able to tackle, though in size it was one of their smallest. “We more usually make large sculptures, decorative gates and all sorts of heritage ironwork,” said Mr Spedding. “It was quite a challenge to make something so small and intricate compared to the things we normally do.”

The awards, in mild steel, are scrolls pierced by a 7in dagger. “We submitted a couple of designs and together with Lucy we arrived at the final version. Then we discussed the engraving with John Coppack at the Fakenham Heel Bar”.

Mr Coppack said: “It was a bit unusual engraving on steel. Normally I work on silver, pewter and brass. It took a couple of attempts to get it right.”

When he had finished, by adding the winners’ names, the engravings were filled with gold engravers’ wax.

Although the names of the winners remain a secret the climax of this story can be revealed. It was crafted by James Spedding and Roger Foyster with a small dagger in a forge at Holkham.