Gareth Cryer, one of the newest blacksmiths to join our team has been lucky enough to be part of the Princes Foundation Building Craft Programme over the last 8 months. The programme involved a 3-month live-build at Dumfries House in Scotland with a team of other craftspeople including stonemasons, carpenters, bricklayers, thatchers and blacksmiths who were all developing their heritage skills. As part of the programme, Gareth had placements at forges across the UK including his time with us at Ironart. We are as active as we can be in fostering these types of placement supporting and developing people with the craft. In running this programme, The Princes Foundation is doing great work to develop crafts professional’s skills in the UK and enable better building practice and conservation of heritage sites across the country. We are really keen to support this kind of enterprise. Congratulations, to Gareth for completing this inspirational programme. We look forward to welcoming Jeremy Cash, our latest placement from the foundation, this November. See below some images of the projects Gareth worked on the programme.
Two years ago, the main Rood Screen at St John the Evangelist in Bath was fully conserved and re-gilded. Since then we have been commissioned to undertake the conservation of the beautifully made traditional iron folding gates on either side of the Rood Screen. We have really enjoyed having the opportunity to work on such a stunning piece of local heritage ironwork. The gates were originally made in 1905 and each gate has slightly different designs and motifs. The gates were covered in an old shellac lacquer which has been removed along with minor corrosion and the one or two missing parts were hand-forged and replaced and then repainted in a matt black paint with gilded highlights to reflect similar gilding on the rood screen.
There is a scattering of shrapnel pockmarks from when the neighbouring presbytery was badly damaged by a bomb in the Baedeker raids of 1942. Because of the bomb damage, one of the gates had lowered which meant we had to extend the hinge journal and heel pivot, allowing the renovated lockboxes and latch to line up nicely and work as they no doubt originally did. Whilst odd missing parts were replaced, the shrapnel damage was left alone, a historical marker left for future generations to find.
It was great to discover more about the history of the building and the ironwork through this renovation project. Click to see this film of St John’s the Evangelist Church after being bombed in some rare documentary footage from the BFI library archive that was found by Martin Smith one of the blacksmithing team who worked on the conservation of the gates. Martin was curious to find out more about the bombing that impacted the heritage ironwork they were working to conserve.
In 2014 we were approached by Gloucestershire County Council to give advice on the existing historic entrance gates to Page Park. Fast forward 3 years with much to-ing and fro-ing between the Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund and we were fortunate enough to be successful in tendering for the restoration of the gates, which were originally made in 1904 by Gardiners of Bristol. The gates have served to keep the park secure for over 100 years, however they were in much need of refurbishment especially the lower panels that had in effect been dissolved by dog wee! Repairs in the past had not been sympathetic to the original metal work, especially the sheeted areas and locking system.
The gates have been repaired with wrought iron, thermal zinc sprayed and finished with a coach enamel system. Overall it has been a huge pleasure to restore these splendid gates to their former original glory.
The project is expected to hoover up nearly 1500 hours of our time, many thanks to Gloucestershire Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund for making this project happen. We are hoping that all the gates will be installed by the end of February 2019. The 1000m of railings also being made for the park’s perimeter are currently being manufactured elsewhere, not a job for Ironart of Bath, we were unable to take on the sheer volume! P
Toilet, lavatory, loo, WC … we all call it something different, but not many of us tend to call it a ‘Temple of Relief’ these days. Popular in the Victorian and Edwardian eras when they were mass produced by iron foundries like Macfarlane’s, cast iron public toilets were once a familiar sight in our city parks. Often decoratively ornate, they were proud architectural statements of a newly improved public sanitation programme. There are still survivors of these ironwork gems in cities like Bath, Bristol and Birmingham, but many are in a poor state of repair.
We were recently called in as specialist ironwork consultants to conduct a survey of the cast iron toilets in Sydney Gardens as part of the Heritage Lottery ‘Parks for People’ bid to understand the former Pleasure Gardens. Andy will be talking about this hidden treasure in Sydney Gardens – and its significance within the context of our precious ironwork heritage – tonight, alongside conservator Sally Strachey and Paul Maggs of Bath College, so do come along to the Gardeners’ Lodge at 6.30pm and find out more. All welcome.
We were recently asked to restore the original gates to Burwalls, an impressive 19th Century listed mansion perched on the edge of the Avon Gorge in Leigh Wood, Bristol. Originally built as a private house in 1872 the property has passed through media and tobacco families before being requisitioned in 1939 by the War Office and then acquired in 1948 by the University of Bristol. The gates, which are likely to have been made by Singers of Frome, were in need of restoration and widening to fit their new setting at the entrance to a development of private luxury apartments within the grounds.
The restoration process included straightening crash-damaged sections, the reversal of previous poor repair work, replacement of missing parts, treatment of corrosion, and new extensions to both gate leaves to complement the original gates. We were also asked remove the original acanthus leaves and make new copper Tudor Roses to replace those that were missing, as well as restore and repair the remaining roses. Finally, new lockboxes were made and the gates sandblasted and re-painted prior to fitting.
You can read more about the intricate process of making a Tudor Rose here …
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…
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
We were recently asked to refurbish the railings at Wickham Road Cemetery in Fareham. Dating from around 1889, there are 24 wrought iron panels, each spanning six metres in length and totalling more than 140 metres of railing.
In recent decades the railings have had temporary in situ repairs made to them, one of which was the introduction of a mechanically fixed bottom rail to secure the vertical bars into the original stone, which had suffered from trapped water and the freeze-thaw process.
Originally the bars were individually fitted with the top strap in two pieces and a halving join in the centre. With this being the first time that the railings are being removed for more extensive repair, we had to release the original halving join, separating the bars into two panels and then cutting through the recently added bottom strap.
All of the bars are in fair condition considering their age but there is evidence of rust-jacking, especially around the bottom rail repair. It is also clear that the rust-jacking of the top strap has compromised the fixings into the stone piers.
We will be working to conserve the railings sympathetically; after trimming the bars to allow clearance under the panels and ensuring that trapped water and the freeze-thaw problem doesn’t reoccur, we will introduce a bottom rail of wrought iron. The railings will require cleaning, removal of all rust, repairs to structurally inadequate and missing components and finally re-painting.
PT Contractors are responsible for replacing all the stone copings and rebuilding the piers as necessary. The Real Wrought Iron Company will be supplying the wrought iron for the bottom rail. With the recent arrival at their workshop of over 30 tonnes of chain dredged from the bottom of Portsmouth harbour, we wonder if some of the chain may find itself back in the neighbourhood very soon…