More dates for our blacksmithing workshops…

Due to popular demand we’ve posted some new dates for Saturday blacksmithing taster days here at Ironart in the late summer and autumn of 2015. (We have completely sold out of spaces through the Spring and early summer). These one-day workshops are aimed at complete beginners, they are always on Saturday mornings 8am – 2pm here in Larkhall on the edge of Bath and cost £95 per person. They are tutored by our experienced blacksmiths Jason Balchin or Martin Smith who will guide you through the basics of forging and give you the chance to make some bits and pieces to take home with you. Our workshops are open to anyone aged 16+ and make a unique and memorable birthday or Christmas present gift.  We’ll give you all the protective equipment you’ll need, a steady flow of tea and coffee and soft drinks, and hot bacon sandwiches (veggie option available!) to keep you going.

Blacksmithing workshop dates are:

Saturday 8th August
Saturday 15th August
Saturday 19th September
Saturday 26th September
Saturday 17th October
Saturday 24th October
Saturday 14th November
Saturday 21st November
Saturday 5th December
Saturday 12th December

Contact us on 01225 311273 to book in. We limit each workshop to just four people and they do tend to sell out quickly. To receive alerts about future workshop dates as we publish them, please subscribe to our monthly email newsletter.

Ironart Forging workshops - Bath  Blacksmithing course - pieces Blacksmithing course - flower hook

Ironart Forging workshops – Bath

Saturday morning Blacksmithing workshop

Last weekend Martin led a group of four friends from Bradford on Avon through a blacksmithing workshop session.
The dynamic quartet raced through the basics of forging and quickly progressed to making some really interesting and unique pieces, including a candlestick, boot rack, hanging basket bracket and WW1 commemorative ceramic poppy holder. Martin found it a really rewarding session and was flat out keeping each project progressing throughout the morning. And the feedback from the group… ‘We thoroughly enjoyed it!”  Here are some pics of the fruits of their labours.

Cavendish Crescent canopy restoration

In December and January the Ironart team oversaw the restoration of three zinc canopies decorating Georgian town houses on Cavendish Crescent, Bath. Two of the canopies were very old, with original wrought iron frames of rivetted construction, both covered with solid zinc sheeting. One was clearly a replica, and a recent addition, made from welded aluminium tube frame, also with a solid zinc sheet hood.

The two canopies that were wrought iron were carefully removed from site, and stripped back to the raw metal. They were then re-coated before being sent to another company (selected by the client) for new zinc sheeting to be applied. The Ironart team made alterations to the third canopy (the modern replica) so that it was more in keeping with the rest. The limestone surrounds into which the door canopies were set had decayed, and frustratingly some of the stonework crumbled when they were removed. The masonry was carefully ‘made good’ by a local stonemason once the door canopies were refitted on site.

Ironart’s restoration specialist Martin Smith is of the view that these canopies were probably later additions to the sweep of Georgian houses on Cavendish Crescent. “When you look closely at them there are many subtle variations in design, indicating that they were made by different manufacturers over the years.”

If you are lucky enough to have an historic architectural feature like this on your house and it’s in need of some care or repair, please get in touch because we’d love to help.

Martin Smith & his Short Stirling bomber

Ironart’s restoration specialist Martin Smith is  a wearer of many hats. One of his chosen specialised subjects is the history of the Short Stirling bomber of which no complete examples exist today. The Short Stirling was the first four-engine heavy bomber to enter RAF service in the Second World War. It was at the forefront of the night bombing offensive against Germany before high losses forced its relegation to second-line duties. In its modified form as the Mk IV and Mk V, the Stirling fulfilled vital roles with the RAF as a paratrooper transport and glider tug and as a long-range passenger transport.

Martin has spent years collecting memorabilia and parts to recreate the instrument panel and sections of the fuselage  – his project has real historic value. We’ve blogged about this in the past (Click here to read all about it).A few weeks ago Martin was tracked down via this blog by a fellow enthusiast and author Jonathan Falconer who needed his expertise and input for a new Haynes, Short Stirling Owner’s Workshop Manual – which has just gone to print.  Believe it or not, these photographs were taken just a few weeks ago for the manual, they feature Martin dressed in vintage pilots uniform in front of the instrument panel he has painstakingly recreated, how cool is that!

Churchill and Short Stirling

Archive photograph of Churchill with a Short Stirling bomber

Martin Short Stirling  Martin Short Stirling 2

 

Martin Short Stirling - Haynes Manual

Coalbrookdale bench restoration

We have been commissioned to restore a number of lovely Coalbrookdale cast iron benches over the last few months. These items are becoming extremely sought after and are fetching high sums at auction so are well worth restoring. Here are two separate restoration commissions as an illustration of the kind of challenges the restoration team here at Ironart are tasked with.

The 1864 Lily of the Valley bench came in to us in  July 2014. It had already been blast cleaned and previously very poorly repaired. Martin and Cecilie took the old ‘bodged’ welds off and replaced with fresh welds and brackets where they were missing. They added bits of missing leaf work  which were carved from scratch out of cast plate. The bench was then reassembled (reusing the slats it had been sent with) and supplied to our client with a red oxide paint finish.

The second bench is a lovely Fern Coalbrookdale which came in to us in June. We took paint samples as it looked to us as if the original Coalbrookdale green paint was still in situ underneath the new layers. We had it cleaned  which revealed pinholes in the original casting (shown). The centre mount on the back of the bench was broken and there was a lug missing. All fixings had corroded so Martin had to drill and tap and make new bolts. There was a missing front slat mount, and another on the back. The bench was supplied painted and the client replaced the slats themselves.

If you have cast iron garden furniture that could do with some TLC and would like a quote to have it restored, please get in touch.

Claverton Pumping Station range restoration

The restoration team here at Ironart have just reinstated a lovely cast iron range inside the Claverton Pumping Station for the Canal & River Trust. The range is a ‘Galdac Gem’ and was classed as a ‘portable’ freestanding stove, even though it takes a great deal of manpower to shift it! Ironart’s Martin Smith – who heads up our restoration team here – estimates that the range was made in the 1830’s as it pre-dates the registration mark system of of 1842.

Claverton Pumping Station was built in 1813 and is a fascinating example of local engineering history and well worth a visit if you are ever in the Bath area. The pump was in working order until two years ago and is currently undergoing a major restoration of it’s own. The Trust aim to have it up and running again by the end of 2015. The pump uses the power of the River Avon to lift water up 48ft into the Kennet and Avon Canal above. As their website states: “Burning no fuel and making no waste it is the ultimate in environmentally friendly technology”.  WATCH a Youtube video of the Pumping Station here.

The Trust believe that this cast iron range was located over the road in a cottage which was built at a slightly later date to accommodate the pumping station operators. We think that the range predates the cottage, and we’re assuming that it originally came from the pumping station workshop or kitchen. The Ironart team had to disassemble over 80 individual parts to repair. The Canal and River Trust acquired it and then obtained a grant to fully restore it.  Martin Smith, Paul Ashmore and NADFAS Restoration Bursary Intern Cecilie Robinson all worked on this restoration project which took the best part of two weeks to complete. The only part of the range that was missing was the ashpan which the team made new, faithfully following the design of a similar range we had seen. The Canal and River Trust now hope to have the range in full working order. Once the the flue, registration plate and bespoke firebricks are installed and connected they fully intend to use it!