Businesswoman, artist and mum Sheila was a woman ahead of her time

Sheila Carter, an artist, businesswoman and mum of five who has died.
Sheila Carter, an artist, businesswoman and mum of five who has died.

An artist, businesswoman and mother of five, who was the epitome of a woman before her time, has died at the age of 87.

Sheila Carter, who took the phrase "working mum" to a whole new level, built the Trapp Forge at Simonstone with her husband, Ron as their family home and business.

Originally from Bolton, Sheila loved art from a young age and completed a foundation course at Bolton Art School before she went on to win a scholarship to the Royal College of Art in London where girls were outnumbered by the boys two to 100.

Studying textile design and fine art, some of the biggest names in the art world were her tutors and mentors.

The course included a year in industry meaning that Sheila worked at the most advanced technological weaving company in Manchester on Ordsall Lane. It was there that she met her future husband, Sgt Ron Carter, ex-Royal Marine, who was a manager in the then booming cotton trade.

They were married in January 1953 and Ron took on a small mill in Padiham. The couple moved to Simonstone and Sheila worked at both Burnley as well as Blackburn technical colleges teaching design. With the cotton industry coming to an end at about this time, Ron brought home from Spa Mill in Padiham the anvil saying “I am going to be a blacksmith."

Sheila’s beautiful, to scale drawings and Ron’s industrious nature proved the perfect combination and quickly moved them into the world of decorative ironwork.

They built Trapp Forge in 1963 and works commissioned included cathedral ironwork restoration, gates, fire grates, light fittings and work for the Royal family, all drawn by Sheila. Ron received a gold medal for his craft in 1997.

In the late 1980s, Sheila undertook the complete restoration of all the shields in Lancaster Castle. This commission resulted in the family’s dining table covered in shields throughout their various states of repair. Some, dating back to 1206 up until the present day, required completely repainting. Sheila researched the paint, gold leaf and Heraldry of the shields and famously asked Padiham Paints if they could guarantee their paint for a thousand years.

Ron died in 1999 and Sheila moved to Parson Lane in Clitheroe. A familiar face working at The Oxfam Shop, she continued designing for her son Bill, who now runs the family business at Trapp Forge.

Passing on her worker ethos to all her children, Sheila, who has eight grandchildren, also has a daughter Vicky who runs Carter Leisure in Clitheroe, a son Robert who is a designer for Seimens, John, a structural engineer whose company makes electric gates, and Nick, who heads a cancer research team at Warwick University.