Book your place!

Our one-day Blacksmithing workshops continue to be hugely popular and our Autumn 2016 course dates have now been announced!

  • Saturday, September 10th
  • Saturday, October 8th
  • Saturday, November 12th

Blacksmithing workshop

Blacksmithing workshop

Our courses run from 8am to 2pm and are limited to just four people per session so tend to sell out quickly. They are open to anyone aged 16+ and make a fun and unique gift experience.

To find out more, click here or to book your place, call us on 01225 311 273.

 

 

Thomas Coffe heads off…

Hard to believe but almost a year has passed since journeyman blacksmith Thomas joined us back in September 2015, as part of his apprenticeship with the Compagnons du Devoir  (also known as the Compagnons du Tours de France).

You’ll recall from an earlier blog that the Compagnons du Tour de France is a French organisation of craftsmen and artisans dating from the Middle Ages. The aim of the Compagnon guild is to train young men and women in traditional trades by acquiring experience by working in various workshops throughout France and internationally. Their traditional, technical education includes taking a tour doing  apprenticeships with masters.

As his year with Ironart draws to a close and with the next stage of his journey lined up, Thomas tells us how the last 11 months have gone:

“Looking back, the year has really been a great experience for me; I’ve worked on and seen so many interesting projects as part of the Ironart team, first working closely with Dominic then more independently. It has been such a busy environment. Everyone has been so helpful, welcoming and supportive. My English was very basic when I arrived – school level – now I can say a full sentence or two and have picked up some technical blacksmithing terms!

I came with only a small amount of ironworking experience and had never worked in a blacksmithing organisation. One project that stands out for me was making a balcony and balustrade for a property in Lansdown, Bath – learning new techniques and seeing the finished piece was amazing.”

Thomas at work

Thomas at work

Thomas leaves us in mid August and will move back to France, settling in Strasbourg for the next two years as he takes up a teaching role at the city’s Compagnons du Devoirs. He will be teaching 16-18 year old metalworking apprentices basic skills and techniques, as they embark on their own journeys.

“I am really looking forward to the next stage in my learning – and also a little nervous! It will be a very busy two years and I have never taught before so again I will have a lot to learn myself.

The confidence Andy and the team at Ironart have shown me has helped me already and I’m looking forward to talking about and sharing my experiences with other compagnons when I return to France. I am very lucky to have had this experience and would definitely recommend it to other apprentices. Thank you to Andy and everyone at Ironart for everything – I can actually speak English now!”

We wish Thomas all the very best!

Lower Lodge Gateway, Ashton Court

The Lower Lodge Gateway (or Gatehouse) was once the main entrance to impressive Ashton Court in Bristol. Built in c. 1805 it was constructed at its location to allow a picturesque carriage drive from the City of Bristol to Ashton Court’s main west front.

Having been in a state of dilapidation for some time, the Lower Lodge gates are now part of a £1m Bristol Buildings Preservation Trust Project which will see the restoration and conversion of the building into the Bower Ashton Gateway Centre, a community hub and learning centre to be managed by Ashton Park School.

For us at Ironart, restoring these gates has been another fantastic project to be involved in…and not without its challenges!

Due to logistical issues, the 15ft x 15ft double gates set within the gatehouse itself couldn’t be moved so the team was required to restore them in situ – a very restricted space. Made of wrought iron in c. 1875 we think the gates were originally transported to the site in sections for assembly.

Martin Smith of Ironart said:

“Over the years the gates have suffered quite severe damage including vehicle damage. The right hand leaf looking out on to the road was seriously distorted and the level of rust-jacking to the overall structure was widespread. This was particularly noticeable on the finial cresting which was also severely bent, with cracks clearly visible on the left side. The top and bottom rails were also in poor condition. The lock boxes were severely corroded and broken; the springs were snapped and internals bent, again probably due to vehicle damage. The drop bolt and keep were in need of repair as the keep was no longer retaining the bolt.”

Washing down the gates to remove the top layer of dirt enabled us to see the scale of the job. Rust-removal was the next key stage which once completed, was followed by wire-brushing back to the clean surface.

In terms of the individual elements, the broken lock box was sent to Keith Carrier & Son of Birmingham, for repair. New lock box cover plates were made at Ironart’s Larkhall workshop and the keep boxes repaired retaining  as much of the original material as possible.

The drop bolt once removed was brought back to the workshop to be straightened and a new tension-spring made and fitted.

The finial cresting of spears and sweeps was removed from the top bar and brought back to the workshop for the rust-jacking to be removed. Each spear, sweep and ring detail was individually and carefully cleaned out and filled where needed. Repairs were also made to the bottom rail.

Once primed, the gates were undercoated and top-coated in a dark grey paint. A beautiful pair of 19th Century gates restored and ready for the next chapter in their story…

Lower Lodge Gates

Original condition of gates

 

Original condition of lockbox

Original condition of lockbox

Rust-jacking in between ring detail and missing buns

Rust-jacking in between ring detail and missing buns

Lower Lodge Gates

Rust-jacking on bottom bar

Original condition of dropbolt

Original condition of dropbolt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Restored lockbox by Keith Carrier & Son

Restored lockbox by Keith Carrier & Son

 

Spear and sweep finial cresting original condition; gapping visible to top right

Spear and sweep finial cresting original condition; gapping visible to top right

Individually cleaning out the ring detail

Individually cleaning out the ring detail

Finial cresting re-fitted

Finial cresting re-fitted

Painting the gates

Painting the gates

 

BABA AGM 2016: Blacksmithing on the beach!

A huge well done and thank you to BABA – the British Artist Blacksmiths Association, who put on a fantastic show at their 2016 AGM and Conference, with their ‘Blacksmithing on the beach’ event in Hastings last weekend.

Featuring as part of the Root 1066 Festival , Hastings-based sculptor Leigh Dyer, in collaboration with BABA, produced a new piece of public art live at the event on Hastings Stade. The sculpture is inspired by the development of the English language through the integration of Norman French and the progression from a largely spoken to a written culture.

 Andy  of Ironart and BABA member said:

“It really was a fantastic event and great to see so many people – those directly involved in the blacksmithing craft but also so many members of the public – enjoying the scene. Seeing the sculpture take shape live in the form of a Norman longboat really drew the crowds and the kids loved having a go at the forging.”

BABA AGM 2016

Norman longboat sculpture taking shape

Info sheet and lettering (web)

Blacksmithing on the beach 2016!

BABA AGM 2016

Blacksmithing at the BABA event

Luke Hannaford celebrates 40 years with Ironart!

To look at him, you wouldn’t think it was possible, but this year sees Ironart’s Luke Hannaford celebrate an amazing 40 years of service with us!

Luke started with the company in 1976, aged just 16, as an apprentice under the guidance of Sam Chantry, Ironart’s founder.

“In those days you did a bit of everything, learning the trade on the job. I worked on so many local projects in those early days; refurbishing the railings behind the Theatre Royal, Rivers Street, Brock Street, a job at Bowood House…

Ironart hasn’t changed that much to be honest! I’ve seen changes in management and different ways of doing things. There were only four of us here when I joined, now there are 12. In terms of the work we get, restoration projects have definitely increased which is great to see. And we do less heavy work.”

Luke spends more of his time fitting and installing on site these days – he loves the interaction with customers and being out in the fresh air!

“You don’t often hear about people being in the same job for 40 years these days do you. I might have a reputation with the younger ones here for being a bit of a grump – I’m allowed to be after 40 years! – but really they know I love it here and its good to see apprentices join the blacksmithing trade just as I did all those years ago.”

Congratulations Luke!

Luke celebrates 40 years with Ironart of Bath

Luke in the workshop…

...and out in the fresh air!

…and out in the fresh air!

 

Bartlett Street Quarter: then and now

Many of you will know that we were involved in the restoration of the beautiful overthrow which hangs high up above the shops, cafes, restaurants, art galleries and antiques centre of the Bartlett St Quarter in Bath.

Commissioned in 2015 by The Bartlett St Antiques Centre, the project was a hugely exciting and at times challenging one – and one that sparked great local interest. Made of wrought iron and dating back we believe to the 19th Century, the restoration work was accompanied by some new bold, eye-catching gilded lettering. For the full story behind the project click here.

To mark the completion of the overthrow as well as showcase Bartlett St and its neighbouring streets as they are today, a street party was held on September 12th 2015.

Documenting the 2015 restoration project and commemorating the history of the Bartlett St Quarter, with the founding of department store, Evans & Owen Ltd. in 1863, a book has been produced to thank all those who were involved in the project. A beautiful pictorial way to bring to an end a fantastic restoration project of local interest and one that we here at Ironart are incredibly proud to have been a part of.

Bartlett St Quarter, Bath

Bartlett St Quarter Commemorative book

Bartlett St, Bath commemorative book

Bartlett St Quarter – Now

Bartlett St Quarter commemorative book - then

Bartlett St Quarter – Then

 

 

 

Royal Crescent Hotel, Bath Wedding Pergola

In terms of word of mouth, it’s great when a project we’ve worked on does the talking!

Back in 2013 we were asked to design, make and install a Dining Pavilion  – affectionately known as the ‘Onion’ – for The Yorke Arms ‘Restaurant and Rooms’, owned by Michelin starred Chef, Frances Atkins.

The beautiful structure certainly gained some attention in the gardening press and we were delighted to be commissioned by Bath’s Royal Crescent Hotel to make a similar structure as the centrepiece to the hotel’s new Wedding Garden, under which people would be able to exchange their vows.

Jonathan Stapleton, General Manager at the Royal Crescent Hotel said:

“The wedding pergola was very much inspired by Frances Atkins and the ‘Onion’ and will be a beautiful focal point for the new gardens here at the Royal Crescent Hotel. Couples choosing to marry here will enjoy a very unique and special backdrop for their nuptials.”

And the pergola continues to speak for itself…

We were delighted to see the pergola made an appearance in an April 2016 issue of Hello! magazine. It can be seen peeking through the window of a hotel bedroom, where the magazine featured an interview with former Olympic swimmer, Sharron Davies.

Royal Crescent Hotel Wedding Pergola

Constructing the pergola

Royal Crescent Hotel, Bath Wedding Pergola installation

Installation

Wedding pergola structure in situ

Wedding pergola in situ

The beautiful Wedding Pergola complete and in situ

The beautiful Wedding Pergola complete and in situ

Pergola detail

Pergola detail

Hello! Magazine 180416

Look through the window…

 

 

Decorative well cover

Our Gloucestershire based clients were looking for two well covers for their garden; one in a popular classic concentric ring design and the other more decorative.

The classic cover measured 600mm in diameter and featured four concentric rings.

The decorative cover involved a more bespoke design and was required to cover a circular reservoir fed by an ornamental rill that was being constructed in the garden. In terms of the design, the client had an idea of what he was looking for which was to be more ornate than a simple grille. The pictures show the beautiful result now in situ and painted.

Well cover designed to cover a circular reservoir

Well cover designed to cover a circular reservoir

 

 

Decorative well cover

Beautiful bespoke decorative well cover

Evesham Abbey Weathervanes – back on top!

An update on the four weathervanes from Evesham Abbey Bell Tower which came in to us for restoration late last year. Click here for the background to this fascinating restoration project.

Brought back to our Larkhall workshop once dismantled from the heady heights of the bell tower, the four pinnacles were carefully flame cleaned. Several minor repairs were made by the restoration team, which included replacement of a number of missing crown crosses, rudimentary straightening of cardinal points, cleaning out areas of rust-jacking before being painted and then gilded.

You’ll recall that part of the brief from Sally Strachey Conservation was to re-design the bearing system which had corroded and no longer allowed the weathervanes to rotate. The original bearing system centred around an exposed bearing surface which required regular maintenance.  To try and ensure a lower maintenance solution, the new bearing specification involved using sealed bearings with machined weather caps at the top and bottom.

evesham abbey weathervanes

Original bearing system and condition of gryphon at point of removal

IMG_5466

New bearing system visible on re-gilded gryphon

 

The four vanes were quite literally a stunning sight once re-gilded. Returned to their home in December 2015 we hope they will continue to do their job for many many more years to come!

IMG_5459

Gilded crown finials back on Evesham Abbey’s Tower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC04887

Gilded crown finials

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mirrored street lantern refurbishment

Made with 64 pieces of mirror glass each measuring 40mm x 40mm and 2mm thick, this pretty cast and wrought iron mirrored lantern from Kingswear in Devon was in need of refurbishment.

Mirrored lantern

Original condition of mirrored lampshade and bracket

To replace each of the 64 pieces of mirror, most of which were in poor condition, a template of what was existing needed to be made using the original lampshade. This would then inform as to where all the shaped pieces fit. The old mirror pieces were removed by the glaziers and the metal shade returned to us for refurbishment.

Original mirrored lampshade

Original pieces of mirrored glass

The shade and bracket metalwork required stripping down, shot blasting, minor filling work, a new cover plate for the base, priming and re-assembly. Once we had completed these works, the new 64 mirrored pieces were fitted into the shade. Devon Council would be re-painting the lantern to their guidelines and re-installing.

 

 

 

 

 

Condition of lampshade and bracket

Lampshade and bracket pre refurbishment

Lantern with new mirrored pieces and refurbished bracket and cover

Lantern with new mirrored pieces and refurbished bracket and cover

Refurbished lantern returned to Devon

Refurbished lantern returned to Devon