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…

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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…

 

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Tenon being heated prior to riveting

 

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Lifting 450+kg of gate

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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.”

Post-repair

Post-repair

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

Gateway to the Chateau D’Oiron

Here at Ironart we are very fortunate to see and be involved in some amazing commissions, but once in a while the opportunity to be part of something very special comes our way.

Earlier this year we were asked if we could produce a pair of traditionally made gates for a private Wiltshire residence.Gough

Why so special? Because these were to be an exact replica of the main gates to the 16th Century Chateau D’Oiron located in Oiron, in the Deux-Sèvres department of Western France –the backdrop for Charles Perrault‘s fairy tale, Puss in Boots.

Chateau d'Oiron May 2015 084Beautifully crafted, highly ornate and standing 4-metres tall, with a 4-metre opening, the gates have been and continue to be (quite literally!) a big feature in the workshop, with Jason and the team working hard to ensure that every detail and specific original features of the gates are spot on.

The gates are forged in very heavy mild steel sections consisting of 45mm² hinge stiles, 45mm² top and bottom rails, all with upset ends and forged tenons. Incorporating numerous horizontal rails of 45x20mm – also with forged tenons – the gates feature  numerous scrolled sections made from 40x15mm and 40x12mm flatbars, all forge-welded and formed hot.

With all the component parts made and assembled, work continues apace!

Here are a just a few photos of the gates in the workshop from the very early stages. We’ll keep you posted with progress and pictures over the coming weeks.

Scrollwork within horizontal mid rails  Firewelding of scrolls     Scroll forming

A punt at Prior Park!

Martin Smith’s punting skills were recently called into action when we were asked to repair the damaged penstock or ‘sluice gate’ at Prior Park in Bath.

The penstock, which controls the flow of water from the spring-fed middle to lower lake, can only be accessed by boat.

Penstock at Prior ParkUnder the expert navigation of Head Gardener Matthew Ward and the beautiful backdrop of the Palladian Bridge, Martin was safely transported across the water to make the repairs.

Penstock repair

Hard at work repairing the damaged penstock or sluice gate at Prior Park

Hard at work repairing the damaged penstock or sluice gate at Prior Park

Needless to say, a thorough risk assessment was carried out in advance by the National Trust which required Martin to wear this lovely red life jacket (and rather fetching he looks too, we think!)

Welcome to Bath Signs

This week Bath and North East Somerset Council have finally installed the new ‘Welcome to Bath’ signs that we made for them here at Ironart last year.

There are four signs in total on the main routes into the City of Bath. Andy was tipped off that the Council had started to put them up, so he whizzed off down the A4 on the Brompton to take a quick photo. They are missing the World Heritage City symbol at the moment and we’re sad to see the City ‘twinning’ information has been taken off too.  Overall though, the clean lines of Andy’s design and the simplicity of the logo are a great improvement. Thumbs up!

Welcome to Bath Signs

 

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.