James and Martin scale the heights

More pics from our work on the Evesham Abbey weathervanes – follow this link to our recent post about this interesting restoration project.

Martin Smith and James Cuthbertson went to Evesham  last week to dismantle the first of the four weathervanes. Working high on the scaffolding, they started with hand tools – thankfully the first one came apart easily, apart from the bottom section of the spindle which was very well secured and had possibly been cast into bronze assembly.  James and Martin unbolted the cardinal points and the crown from the top of the spindle, which then allowed them to remove the griffon detail. 65 years of weather had corroded and sealed this firmly on, so the two men winched up a gas set and heated the socket at the base to loosen it up. This was a bit nervewracking because the base of spindle also forms the clamps around the delicate stone pinnacles (see pictures on our previous blog post).Thankfully they eventually came free without damage to any part of the weathervane or pinnacle. The vanes were then winched down on two ‘gin wheel’ hand pulleys.

Having studied the weathervanes in detail, James is of the view that the vanes were made at the same time as the clamp assemblies.  Although the iron has weathered and looks old, the bronze has weathered better. Looking at the flames on the forged griffon they appear to have been flame cut from sheet – identifiable by the distinctive edge quality. James comes from Evesham and was contacted by several people who apparently know the provenance and history of the weathervanes, we’ll update you when we know more.

James said of this project: “It’s good to be involved in a restoration project that has a connection with the place I grew up, and it’s satisfying to know that once the restoration is complete these weathervanes will  be here for another long period of time.”
The four vanes are now here in our workshop in Larkhall, Bath. They will now be flame cleaned and minor repairs will be carried out by our restoration team before they are re-gilded and returned to Evesham.

Evesham Abbey weathervane restoration

We’ve been commissioned by Sally Strachey Conservation to carry out the restoration of four weathervanes on Evesham Abbey Bell Tower. This beautiful structure is all that remains of a large Abbey complex which was demolished by townsfolk when it was surrendered to the King in 1590 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

The gilded crown weather vanes are generally in good condition although there is surface corrosion to the frame, and the gilding and paintwork need to be renewed. Our brief is also to redesign the bearing system which has corroded to the point where the weather vanes no longer rotate in the wind. Our solution will need to ensure that minimal maintenance is required in future, as you can see from the pictures the weathervanes are extremely tricky to access! The last restoration was carried out in the 1950’s, and the restorers mark was helpfully stamped into the bronze.

Ironart’s Martin Smith and James Cuthbertson will be travelling up to Evesham later this week to dismantle the weathervanes and bring them back to the Ironart workshops in Larkhall. We’ll post more pics and update you as this project evolves.

 

 

 

 

 

Sweeping handrail for Watson, Bertram & Fell

Posting some pictures of a lovely curved handrail that we made for a farmhouse near Swainswick for Bath Architects Watson, Bertram & Fell and builders Donovan Construction.  A simple, elegant design made by James and Jason here in the Ironart workshops in Larkhall earlier in the year and fitted on site in several visits by Andy, Martin and Jason.

The bespoke timber for the handrail was supplied by Staffordshire based timber specialists Clive Durose. The finished stair rail has a really satisfying, intrinsic beauty, and the feedback we received from them put a big smile on our faces too… “We were very impressed with the quality of the metalwork, as was our fitter”

If you have a similar staircase project in mind and would like some advice, please give us a call because we’d love to help.

 

Canopy restoration, Lansdown Bath

This pretty Georgian canopy was reclaimed and restored on behalf of a client who lives on Lansdown in Bath.  Martin Smith carried out this restoration in the Ironart workshops in Larkhall. He started by stripping it apart, straightening all the sections and making moulds for the lead cast ball detailing. Martin had to make a new mould for the larger ball detail on the sides (which were new additions). We think it really enhances the back door to their garden.

 

 

Overthrow restoration update

We blogged about this project two weeks ago. The team are continuing to restore the Bartlett Street sign overthrow here in the Ironart workshop. These pictures tell the story of the restoration work as it progresses under the expert eye of Martin Smith. For more information about Ironart’s Restoration services follow this link to that area of our website. If you have a project in mind and would like some advice about where to start, please get in touch.

Bartlett Street Overthrow Restoration

These pictures tell the story of an intriguing restoration project we have in the workshop at the moment.We have been commissioned by the Bartlett Street Antiques Centre in Bath to survey,  dismantle and restore this beautiful 6m wide overthrow which has, for many years been hanging high over Bartlett Street, a picturesque pedestrian side street in Georgian Bath’s main shopping district.

We are still not sure exactly how old this lovely wrought iron overthrow is but probably late 19th Century. Martin Smith is overseeing the restoration of the whole piece, carefully cataloguing each section and ensuring the appropriate repairs are made at each stage of the process.  Stacey Hibberd, Cecilie Robinson and Adrian Booth are all assisting Martin in the restoration. It’s such a beautiful piece of original wrought ironwork and our whole team appreciate the level of craftsmanship and care that went into it’s making. We can only wonder how many million people have strolled underneath this overthrow without even noticing it! When restored and back in situ the gantry will incorporate some new, bold lettering to catch the eye – “Bartlett St Quarter” – more pics to follow as work progresses…

Bespoke brass shutter bars

Martin made these bespoke brass shutter bars for a large Georgian house in Scotland. This was a fiddly project – but the finished results look amazing.

We don’t have any photos of them in situ, but will blog them when they come through our client. If you are interested in talking to us about shutter bars we have made plenty over the years, so please get in touch.

 

 

Railing restoration at the Assembly Rooms

These top hat finial railings are situated outside the National Trust’s Assembly Rooms in the centre of Bath and date back to 1771 the year the Assembly rooms were completed. We were tasked with making sympathetic repairs to the railings after they were damaged by vandals who trying to steal the lead sheeting off the roof. (And yes.. they were caught red-handed by the overnight security guard and the Police!)

Martin and Alan carried out the repairs on site, some of the finials had decayed and some were fractured upon impact.  It was obvious that there had been some previous repairs carried out as there are some mild steel replacement finials (probably done in the 1980’s) which were lacking in refinement. The team repaired seven railing finials in total. The original leaves were all salvaged and reused, Martin and Alan carefully brazed to fill the holes and damaged sections. The new versions were cut off and replaced with more delicate versions!

An interesting project in a very prestigious location – and satisfying to know that Ironart had a role to play in the history of the Assembly room railings.

 

 

Coalbrookdale umbrella stand restoration

Martin has just put the finishing touches to this elaborate Coalbrookdale cast iron umbrella stand.  This piece came to us for restoration from an enthusiast who has a collection of Coalbrookdale items and catalogues.

The umbrella stand was thoroughly cleaned of all the old layers of paint, and inspected for cracks and damage. There was a section of decorative cast iron missing and Martin formed a replica piece out of a reclaimed cast iron railing bar. This cast iron umbrella stand dates back to the mid 1860’s and Martin thinks it’s one of the crispest, cleanest examples of cast iron we have worked on to date here at Ironart.

The pale colour finish shown here in these pictures is just a primer as the final paint finish will be applied by the customer himself. If you are lucky enough to own an historic cast iron umbrella stand and would like to talk to us about restoration options, we’re really happy to help.

 

Blacksmithing for children at Swainswick Explorers

The Ironart team have joined forces with Swainswick Explorers to offer blacksmithing tuition to groups of children from the ‘Valley Schools’ on the east side of Bath. Our collaboration forms part of the Valley Added initiative. 

We held the first of our children’s blacksmithing sessions up at Swainswick Explorers today. The rain disappeared, the sun came out and we had a fab time!  Swainswick Explorers is the most amazing outdoor play venue overlooking a steep valley on the edge of Bath, it was set up by husband and wife team Edward and Rachel Leigh-Wood. Ironart’s Martin Smith worked side by side with Robert and Carol Smith to give six children the chance to forge their own coat hooks which they then fixed to rustic larch wood panels to take home with them. The smiles said it all.