The Bartlett Street Quarter revealed!

The Ironart Twitter feed has been very active this week as the shop owners, shoppers and residents on Bartlett Street have noticed the scaffolding coming down. At last the newly restored sign gantry that we’ve been restoring (featured in earlier blog posts) has been revealed. The sign has had new gilt lettering added announcing the “Bartlett Street Quarter” – the gilding was carried out by one of our favourite local craftsman Krysta Brooks from Frome.

The close-knit independent shop keeping community on Bartlett Street are planning a celebratory street party on Saturday 12th September from 10am – 6pm with live music, great food and entertainments – all will be welcome so put the date in your diaries and go along if you can. We’ll post more details when we have some.

In the meatime, search #BartlettStreetQuarter on Twitter to follow their story.

 

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…

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.

 

 

A cast iron jigsaw puzzle

One of the most satisfying projects we’ve undertaken recently was the restoration of this beautiful cast iron Coalbrookdale Nasturtium bench.

Cast iron is a durable metal and was (and still is) used frequently to make garden furniture, because it can withstand the elements while allowing the designer to introduce a high level of detail and decoration. The drawback of using cast iron is that it is susceptible to cracking if it’s dropped, which is exactly what happened to this particular bench.

Coalbrookdale benches are very sought after these days, it’s possible to date a bench by looking closely at the diamond stamp which were imprinted onto all manner of products. See attached image.

“From 1842 to 1893 products registered with the British Patents Office were given a distinctive diamond mark bearing a code which summarised the material (class 1 for metals), the day, the month and year of registration and the bundle of documents at the Public Record Office where the patent is to be found.”

Cast iron date marks

 

If you are lucky enough to own one of these historic benches, and would like to know more about our restoration service and what it’s likely to cost, please follow this link.

Martin painstakingly recreated this original bench using the myriad of pieces supplied. The pictures below tell the story of the restoration. We’re delighted to say this particular story has a happy ending!

 

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.

 

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.

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!