John Girvan was born and brought up in Devizes, Wiltshire, England. He is a traditional blacksmith now retired from the Canal Forge at Lower Wharf in Devizes and continues this trade as a hobby. He is a historian and local author publishing his own books.

John has always been interested in topics with a tradition. His personal research into these historical subjects developed into a series of talks and extended to guided walks around Devizes. He is a speaker for local history societies, clubs, group meetings and visits schools. He was presented to HRH Princess Anne The Princess Royal in 2015 at the museum. John has appeared in National and International press and has featured in a number of TV programs:

  • 'Terry & Mason's Great Food Trip' with Sir Terry Wogan, 2015
  • 'Great British Ghosts' - Yesterday with Michaela Strachan, 2011
  • 'Ghost Towns' - Living TV, Derek Acorah visited the Canal Forge, 2006
  • Miranda Krestovnikoff visits the Canal Forge for a history documentary, 2005
  • ‘Monarchy' - BBC4, Canal Forge film location, 2002.
  • 'History Mysteries' - BBC2, featuring John at the Canal Forge and discussing his original door from the Victorian prison at Devizes.
  • 'The Why Files' - Live TV, Dave Barrett goes on the Ghost Walk.
  • 'Collectors Lot' - C4, Sue Cook finds out about the bra collection, 1998
  • 'Coast to Coast' - BBC, Janet Street Porter visits the forge for a blacksmith demonstration, 1997.
  • 'Days out' - BBC, Angela Rippon trying blacksmithing at the Canal Forge, 1986

John is the author of nine books, and co-author of a further two. All of John's books can be obtained from libraries, and some are still available to buy. Find out more on the books page