Supporting Heritage Skills with the Princes Trust

Gareth Cryer developing his Heritage Skills with The Princes Foundation Building Craft Programme.

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.

St Johns Gates Renovation & Installation

Renovation complete of the beautiful hand-forged side gates at St John the Evangelist in Bath with gold touches.

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 The gates were originally made in 1905 and each gate has slightly different designs and motifs.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.

Parade Gardens Balustrade

Over the last 3 and a half years, Ironart of Bath has been involved in a project called BathIRON. BathIRON was the brainchild of Andy Thearle, owner of Ironart of Bath and secretary and trustee of the National Heritage Ironwork Group. The NHIG’s aim is to raise awareness of heritage ironwork, the skills involved in creating it and also that enable its protection and conservation. The focal point of the BathIRON project was to create a brand new bespoke, musical themed balustrade for the bandstand in Parade Gardens, Bath, as a means to raise awareness of heritage ironwork to a multitude of audiences. 
 
Last June alongside The British Artist Blacksmith Association, Hereford College of Arts and lots of artist blacksmiths, Ironart of Bath participated in the BathIRON festival of ironwork in Parade Gardens in the centre of the City of Bath. Over the 4 days of the event, all the bespoke panels were forged live by master blacksmiths and their teams.  Following on from that, after a winter of hard work and thousands of hours of forging, galvanising, finishing and painting, this April saw the final installation of the balustrade and it looks amazing! It is now in situ and you can go down anytime to Parade Gardens in Bath and have a look. 
 
This May Ironart joined the final celebrations to mark the project’s completion, at an event called FireFOLK in Parade Gardens, Bath. FireFOLK was an evening of live folk music, forging demonstrations, a silent auction of traditionally, hand-forged pieces, a bar and local food stalls. It was a family-friendly event as part of the Bath Festival and welcomed people of all ages and backgrounds. It was great to be mixing with artist and master blacksmiths, families who had sponsored notes on the balustrade, folk music enthusiasts, regulars to the park and visitors to the city.  We were very lucky with a balmy, sunny evening and much fun was had by all, the mayor came to cut the ribbon and accept this amazing, bespoke gift on behalf of the city of Bath and the evening ended in suitable style with lots of happy folk dancing around the beautiful, newly adorned bandstand. Read more about the project here.

It has been amazing to be part of this project, that leaves a legacy that will be seen and enjoyed for hundreds of years by many thousands of people visiting and living in the city of Bath. The opportunity to be involved in something that allows people to understand the incredible creative possibilities of working with metal was very exciting and a privilege. This kind of bespoke work is something that Ironart of Bath specialises in. Do get in touch if you would like us to come and talk about a creative idea you have for some bespoke ironwork creation!
 

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…

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.

A beautiful gothic gate…

We have just installed a beautiful gothic gate in Bristol. We have already posted a blog piece about the making of this gate while it was in the workshop.

There’s no real need for words here – we think the pictures say it all…

Gothic single wrought iron gate, Bristol

 

 

A gothic single gate, Ironart of Bath

 

 

A gothic single gate, Ironart of Bath

 

A gothic single gate, Ironart of Bath

 

 

An impressive gothic-style single gate

Gothic wrought iron gate - Bristol

The Ironart workshops have been a positive hive of activity, but apologies for the long silence on the blog front, there has been a great deal going on in the office too!

The Ironart team have created a beautiful single gothic-style wrought iron gate for a private customer in Bristol. This heavy metal gate has been predominantly made using traditional metalworking techniques and will form the entrance to the walled garden of a Georgian property.

It features cast lead detailing (see images below) for which Martin had to recreate the mould and will eventually incorporate pretty leaf detailing. The bars incorporate barley twists which Jason made by hand, these bars feed through punched straps.  Jason created the halving joins using a micro cutting disk and a plasma cutter.

More pics to follow once we’ve installed it.

Glazed entrance gates

We’ve just installed a unique pair of wrought iron glazed entrance gates on a large private house in the South West. This was a prestigious and very exciting commission as these gates were made by the team here at Ironart using genuine recycled puddled wrought iron and with traditional metalworking techniques.  Andy designed the gates in collaboration with the architects, and Jason led the team who realised the project here in the Ironart workshops.

Shaping the frame for a wrought iron overthrow

Dom and Jason were bending the frame for a curved overthrow this week. They were working with 38mm square bar. First they created a ‘former’ which they welded to the bench. They heated the component in the forge and shaped it a piece at a time. This was time-consuming and hot work! The bar could only be heated 14 inches per time – it took several hours, but the results were very satisfying. Read more Ironart blogs about the making of these traditional gates.

Flame cleaning scrollwork

These scrolls belong to a beautiful listed Georgian house in Camden Crescent, Bath. Ironart have been commissioned to restore the ironwork on the face of the building.

These images show the scrolls being flame cleaned to remove the old paint.

Flame-cleaning as part of the restoration of historic ironwork

Restoration of historic metalwork