Charming internal handrail

We recently fitted a charming handrail for an internal staircase at a property in Monkton Combe, Bath.

Hand forged in our Larkhall workshop  two sections of 20mm diameter handrail were made to fit a lower staircase and two short steps.

A pretty bespoke job!

Charming internal handrail Charming internal handrail

Ironart at Ypres 2016

Ypres in Flanders saw a fantastic turnout for its week long International Blacksmithing event last week. Bringing together blacksmiths and farriers from around the world to create a stunning new World War 1 Cenotaph for the 21st Century, the cenotaph will stand as a beacon of hope for future generations, commemorating all those who died, survived and were affected by the conflict 100 years ago.

Represented by Andy, Alan, Alan’s wife Helen and James, Ironart was proud to attend and take part in this unique event, travelling the return trip of 580 miles by camper van and bicycle, via the Channel Tunnel.

Andy told us:

“The set up at Ypres was incredibly impressive – over 20 nationalities were represented across the 170+ blacksmiths attending. Split into 25 teams under Master Blacksmiths, the forging stations ran really well with Alan, James and I joining different masters to produce the individually designed railing panels which will flank the 12-tonne centrepiece of the Cenotaph – a 7m high slab of steel featuring a single Flanders Field poppy surrounded by a field of 2,016 steel poppies – all handcrafted by blacksmiths and farriers from all over the world.”

Over the six day event, the town saw parades and events to commemorate the Great War and all those who suffered, including the laying of a wreath of poppies forged by children. Alongside the forging spectacle, ‘Transition’, an exhibition of contemporary forged metal design, was also on display. The international exhibition will tour the UK and mainland Europe finishing in London as part of the centenary Armistice celebrations in 2018.

“As always it was great to meet up with old friends and make new acquaintances; working in international teams really does inspire. It was also a great opportunity for us to spread the word about BathIRON 2017 a celebration of our nation’s heritage ironwork, which the NHIG (National Heritage Ironwork Group) is staging in June next year. A rare and exciting event, Bath’s Parade Gardens will host a Festival of Ironwork that will see the live creation of a brand new balustrade for the park’s bandstand. Alongside this, a two-day Historic Ironwork Conference at the Guildhall will focus on conservation and restoration of our nation’s heritage ironwork.”

“We thoroughly enjoyed Ypres 2016 – huge thanks and congratulations to BABA and the Belgian Guild of Blacksmiths (ASG) for organising. For the Ironart contingent, it gave James and myself a great opportunity to get our cycling gear on and take in some beautiful countryside on our 120-mile return leg from Calais to Ypres. Many thanks to Alan and Helen for driving…a road trip to remember!”

Alan checks over the precious cargo!

Alan checks over the precious cargo!

Ypres, here we come!

Ypres, here we come!

Andy working on his team's panel

Andy working on his team’s panel

James and his teammates working on their tool-themed panel

James and his teammates working on their tool-themed panel

Andy with his team and finished panel

Andy with his team and finished panel

Alan with this forging team in French Catalan hats!

Alan with this forging team in French Catalan hats – supplied by members of the Association de Ferronnerie Catalane (http://www.association-ferronnerie-catalane.com)

The lads at the Cenotaph Poppy

The lads at the Cenotaph Poppy

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Lower Lodge Gateway, Ashton Court

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…

Lower Lodge Gates

Original condition of gates

 

Original condition of lockbox

Original condition of lockbox

Rust-jacking in between ring detail and missing buns

Rust-jacking in between ring detail and missing buns

Lower Lodge Gates

Rust-jacking on bottom bar

Original condition of dropbolt

Original condition of dropbolt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Restored lockbox by Keith Carrier & Son

Restored lockbox by Keith Carrier & Son

 

Spear and sweep finial cresting original condition; gapping visible to top right

Spear and sweep finial cresting original condition; gapping visible to top right

Individually cleaning out the ring detail

Individually cleaning out the ring detail

Finial cresting re-fitted

Finial cresting re-fitted

Painting the gates

Painting the gates

 

BABA AGM 2016: Blacksmithing on the beach!

A huge well done and thank you to BABA – the British Artist Blacksmiths Association, who put on a fantastic show at their 2016 AGM and Conference, with their ‘Blacksmithing on the beach’ event in Hastings last weekend.

Featuring as part of the Root 1066 Festival , Hastings-based sculptor Leigh Dyer, in collaboration with BABA, produced a new piece of public art live at the event on Hastings Stade. The sculpture is inspired by the development of the English language through the integration of Norman French and the progression from a largely spoken to a written culture.

 Andy  of Ironart and BABA member said:

“It really was a fantastic event and great to see so many people – those directly involved in the blacksmithing craft but also so many members of the public – enjoying the scene. Seeing the sculpture take shape live in the form of a Norman longboat really drew the crowds and the kids loved having a go at the forging.”

BABA AGM 2016

Norman longboat sculpture taking shape

Info sheet and lettering (web)

Blacksmithing on the beach 2016!

BABA AGM 2016

Blacksmithing at the BABA event

Bartlett Street Quarter: then and now

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.

Bartlett St Quarter, Bath

Bartlett St Quarter Commemorative book

Bartlett St, Bath commemorative book

Bartlett St Quarter – Now

Bartlett St Quarter commemorative book - then

Bartlett St Quarter – Then

 

 

 

Royal Crescent Hotel, Bath Wedding Pergola

In terms of word of mouth, it’s great when a project we’ve worked on does the talking!

Back in 2013 we were asked to design, make and install a Dining Pavilion  – affectionately known as the ‘Onion’ – for The Yorke Arms ‘Restaurant and Rooms’, owned by Michelin starred Chef, Frances Atkins.

The beautiful structure certainly gained some attention in the gardening press and we were delighted to be commissioned by Bath’s Royal Crescent Hotel to make a similar structure as the centrepiece to the hotel’s new Wedding Garden, under which people would be able to exchange their vows.

Jonathan Stapleton, General Manager at the Royal Crescent Hotel said:

“The wedding pergola was very much inspired by Frances Atkins and the ‘Onion’ and will be a beautiful focal point for the new gardens here at the Royal Crescent Hotel. Couples choosing to marry here will enjoy a very unique and special backdrop for their nuptials.”

And the pergola continues to speak for itself…

We were delighted to see the pergola made an appearance in an April 2016 issue of Hello! magazine. It can be seen peeking through the window of a hotel bedroom, where the magazine featured an interview with former Olympic swimmer, Sharron Davies.

Royal Crescent Hotel Wedding Pergola

Constructing the pergola

Royal Crescent Hotel, Bath Wedding Pergola installation

Installation

Wedding pergola structure in situ

Wedding pergola in situ

The beautiful Wedding Pergola complete and in situ

The beautiful Wedding Pergola complete and in situ

Pergola detail

Pergola detail

Hello! Magazine 180416

Look through the window…

 

 

Decorative well cover

Our Gloucestershire based clients were looking for two well covers for their garden; one in a popular classic concentric ring design and the other more decorative.

The classic cover measured 600mm in diameter and featured four concentric rings.

The decorative cover involved a more bespoke design and was required to cover a circular reservoir fed by an ornamental rill that was being constructed in the garden. In terms of the design, the client had an idea of what he was looking for which was to be more ornate than a simple grille. The pictures show the beautiful result now in situ and painted.

Well cover designed to cover a circular reservoir

Well cover designed to cover a circular reservoir

 

 

Decorative well cover

Beautiful bespoke decorative well cover

Evesham Abbey Weathervanes – back on top!

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.

evesham abbey weathervanes

Original bearing system and condition of gryphon at point of removal

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New bearing system visible on re-gilded gryphon

 

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!

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Gilded crown finials back on Evesham Abbey’s Tower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gilded crown finials

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mirrored street lantern refurbishment

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.

Mirrored lantern

Original condition of mirrored lampshade and bracket

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.

Original mirrored lampshade

Original pieces of mirrored glass

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Condition of lampshade and bracket

Lampshade and bracket pre refurbishment

Lantern with new mirrored pieces and refurbished bracket and cover

Lantern with new mirrored pieces and refurbished bracket and cover

Refurbished lantern returned to Devon

Refurbished lantern returned to Devon

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!

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Halfway through the painting!

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Painted scrollwork detail close up

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

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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!

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Finished scrollwork in mid Brunswick green

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The finished overthrow in place

 

Final gates crop

The beautiful gates at their new home