Gateway to the Chateau D’Oiron…final installation!

Over the last few months we’ve been blogging about the 16th Century gates we were commissioned to make for a Wiltshire residence. Now into the final stages, the gates and overthrow have been beautifully brought to life in a mid Brunswick green and are looking pretty impressive!

Due to their size, the gates themselves were painted at the Somerset Lavender Farm in Faulkland – thank you to Judith and Francis for allowing us the use of their barn to do this!


Halfway through the painting!


Painted scrollwork detail close up


Dean hand-painting the ornate Overthrow scrollwork in Ironart’s paint shop


Painted overthrow


Final fit was then scheduled for the end of March – a pretty momentous time for the team involved! Over a tonne of traditionally crafted, beautifully ornate mild steel was now ready for installation. Transported to Wiltshire by trailer, the team – along the gates and overthrow- undertook the final installation very much along the lines of the trial fit back a few months earlier.

Larger scale lifting machinery was needed this time and the fit itself went very smoothly, the trial fit having helped smooth out any potential problems. Installation took the full day and once in, the client as well as interested local residents were highly impressed! The gates looked wonderful in their setting, perfectly in proportion to the surrounding stonework of the property.

Jason Balchin who worked on the gates said:

“The gates have been such a fantastic opportunity to utilise our traditional craft skills; it’s true that due to the size of the gates some aspects of the job were at times quite challenging, especially in handling and working on such massive steel sections! But we all agree that the finished item is something to feel very proud of and we’d love to get our teeth into more jobs like this one.”

A brilliant commission and a beautiful job well done!


Finished scrollwork in mid Brunswick green









The finished overthrow in place


Final gates crop

The beautiful gates at their new home


Wickham Road Cemetery Railings, Fareham

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.





Mechanical bottom rail

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.


Original halving join

6T5A8740 crop

Separating the halving join


Preparing to extract one of the railing panels



Fixings into the stone piers have been compromised

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…

Gateway to the Chateau D’Oiron…Overthrow

Whilst the gates go on to be thermal zinc sprayed ahead of painting, work continues on arguably the most decorative part of the job – the overthrow. Overthrows are seen on many period properties and are an opportunity to create a beautiful centrepiece to frame the entrance to a property.

Hand setting overthrow detail

Setting by hand

The overthrow for these gates – as with the gates themselves – has been made from scratch with all the scrollwork forge-welded together in the traditional manner and all set by hand.

All the components have been riveted and bolted together and set out as you can see here.

Wrought iron overthrow detail

Riveting and bolting overthrow detail

As a late addition, we were asked to incorporate the letter ‘S’ into the overthrow – coincidentally the monogram that also appeared on the original gates, this time standing for ‘Sturford’ – the name of the destination property.

Wrought iron overthrow monogram detail

‘S’ monogram detail in overthrow

Weighing in at approximately 125kg, this element will bring the total weight of the metalwork to over a tonne!

Wrought iron overthrow

Approx. 125kg of wrought iron overthrow

Gateway to the Chateau D’Oiron…Trial Fit

With the gates meticulously assembled, they were now ready for transportation by trailer to the Wiltshire residence for which they had been made.

It’s fair to say there was a general air of nervous excitement…today was a big day and just days before Christmas.

Each gate was carefully lifted by crane and gently lowered onto the bronze bushes. The Ironart team of Andy, Jason and Alan watched with baited breath as each gate was set down…and to everyone’s great relief – after three months of hard work – the gates fitted beautifully! No adjustments needed.HDG 261215 014

Trial fit completed, it was back on the trailer for the gates to be thermal zinc sprayed ahead of painting.

More to follow so watch this space!Trial Fit 3

Gateway to the Chateau D’Oiron…Final assembly

We recently blogged about the beautiful <<16th Century gates>> we’ve been working on for a private residence in Wiltshire. As promised, here’s the next instalment….

Clamping the gate

So having spent many weeks forging component parts for all aspects of the gates, it was time for final preparation and assembly. After all the components had been methodically adjusted to ensure a precise fit within the gate frame sections, the big moment had arrived…


Clamped gate with tenon being forged

Having made all the intricate adjustments and ensuring that all the tenons fitted tightly, riveting of the outer frame could commence. To do this precisely and safely (bearing in mind each gate weighed approx. 450kg),  each gate was clamped in several places to ensure that there was no movement when the tenons were forged shut.

Once all the tenons and mechanical joints had been made good, each gate could be moved – no mean feat – requiring a block and tackle to lift each gate from the bench ahead of transportation…



Tenon being heated prior to riveting



Lifting 450+kg of gate



Fruit, vine and bird bench

This late 1860’s cast iron bench arrived with us in a number of pieces as a result of a previous unsympathetic restoration attempt.

The back was in three or four pieces, lugs were missing and adjoining screws had been snapped off, as had the backs of the main legs and stem.

New replica nuts were made to attach new threads and repair the legs, and the back pieces were welded with nickel iron rods with all welding being carved into the pattern.

Pieces of bench as brought in

Pieces of bench as brought in

Condition of bench

Condition of bench

Condition of bench

Condition of bench








Bench detail

Bench detail

Bench re-assembled

Bench re-assembled

Bustamante Pigeon

One of a pair of large Sergio Bustamante pigeons recently flew our way for repair, having suffered damage to its feathers and feet and unable to stand.

Broken feet

Broken feet

Made in Mexico in the 1970’s and measuring 18″ by 18″ of brass plated steel, Martin made repairs to the feet by re-soldering the joints and re-attaching the wooden structure inside the legs to create stability.

Damaged feathers

Damaged feathers

Martin said, “our charismatic friend had seen some previous repairs which unfortunately had been glued. Hopefully with the recent soldered repairs, he will continue to have a long and fruitful life.”



19th Century Canopy Restoration

One of our more challenging projects recently has been the restoration of a beautiful 19th Century cast iron canopy, for a property on the outskirts of Bath.

Measuring approximately 15 metres in length and featuring a wrought iron framework with cast iron infill detail and a copper roof, the canopy was suffering from significant corrosion as a result of years of neglect.

Before restoration

Before restoration

The restoration involved stripping down the entire structure on site, removing over 500 bolts and numbering each section before being sent to the workshop for paint removal, general repairs and treatment of corroded areas.

Condition of framework

Condition of framework

The canopy restored

The canopy restored

Once all repair work had been completed the whole structure was then decorated before being refitted on site. Working in conjunction with a Coppersmith, we fabricated an entirely new roof covering from 0.7mm copper sheet which was then fitted to the ironwork using appropriate isolating material to prevent the possibility of bi-metallic corrosion. The decision was made not to replace the unsightly fibreglass panels that had been installed previously.

A beautiful structure, we feel restored to its former glory.



4. Wrought iron frame with cast iron infill

Iron frame detail post treatment but requiring filling due to porosity in the castings

Iron frame detail post treatment but requiring filling due to porosity in the castings


Copper canopy roof

Copper canopy roof



Condition of canopy roof

Condition of canopy roof

RECLAIM magazine inaugural issue features Ironart’s Martin Smith

We were delighted to feature in RECLAIM magazine’s very first issue (March 2016), with an interview with Ironart’s very own Martin Smith!

In the interview, Martin talks about his background in restoration, his passion for the Short Stirling bomber restoration he is undertaking and talks in detail about the process of the recent restoration of a beautiful Coalbrookdale Nasturtium bench.


RECLAIM front page - March 2016

Ironart's Martin Smith talks about his background in restoration and recent Coalbrookdale bench restoration project

Ironart’s Martin Smith talks about his background in restoration and recent Coalbrookdale bench restoration project