DEVELOPERS are looking to destroy a historic forge where the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car from the famous film was made.

Blue Sonic Limited is looking to demolish and redevelop the building near Lewes, but is receiving criticism from blacksmiths and admirers of the late Rowland Emett’s work.

Operating since 1870, The East Chiltington Forge was chosen by Emett, a local artist, sculptor and illustrator, for the final stages of construction of the car and machinery used in the film.

The inventions made in the film by Dick Van Dyke's character Caractacus Potts were also created there.

Brian Petitt, 78, from Ringmer, who worked at the forge in Highbridge Lane for 47 years, said: “I used to do the metal work with Rowland at the forge with a team of four full time workers and I went on to own it years later.

“He was always coming in with his brilliant ideas and we helped him build a lot of the machines used in the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang films.”

Ricky Delaney, blacksmithing and metalwork lecturer at nearby Plumpton College, says that forges are a rare commodity and the destruction of such a prolific site would be a loss to the blacksmithing community.

Plumpton College annually produces blacksmithing graduates looking for local workshop space to practise their trade.

Howard Eaton, managing director of Howard Eaton Lighting, in Lewes, said: “I have always been a fan of Emett’s work and have had the opportunity to build a car that was used in the 2002 musical stage version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium.

“Emett’s mechanical creations were remarkable and based on ingenious ideas. He had a unique way of looking at things.”

There were 37 machines sent all over the world to promote the film that were initially created at Emett’s other forge in Streat and then sent to the East Chiltington forge, four miles away, for completion.

Malcolm Davison, 68, from Burgess Hill, a member of the Rowland Emett Society, said: “It would be very sad to see the forge go because the film is loved by millions and it would be a lost part of Rowland’s past.”

Many of the remaining machines and vehicles are now in museums outside of Sussex, in other parts of the UK and around the world.

An exhibition of some of the models used as props and as part of the film’s promotion is on display at the Thinktank Exhibition in Birmingham until March 5.