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


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!


Gilded crown finials back on Evesham Abbey’s Tower










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!


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


Hoopback bench goes on loan to Hampton Court!

We were delighted to be of assistance to Hampton Court Palace Exhibition Curator, Sebastian Edwards, who approached us for one of our beautiful hoopback benches, to feature as part of Historic Royal Palaces’ new exhibition, The Express and the Gardener.

Celebrating the 300th anniversary of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown’s birth, the exhibition of rare watercolours  by John Spyers, an assistant to Brown are now on display and explores the famous English gardener’s surprising influence on the Russian Empress, Catherine the Great, who was passionate about all things English and created English palaces and gardens in St Petersburg.

Forming part of the exhibition, our lovely two seat hoopback in flat steel is featured in the centre of a small courtyard display designed to evoke a corner of the kitchen garden where Brown was Chief Gardener. On show at the exhibition until early September, our classic Regency design bench in invisible green is ideal for creating the period feel that was sought for the set.

If you do get chance to visit the exhibition this summer, do pop by and see our hoopback in situ!

Some ‘in progress’ pics below….

invisible green hoopback bench in flat steel

our 2 seat hoopback bench


Courtyard depicting kitchen garden


View to courtyard from exhibition



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…

Pretty garden handrail

A little gem of a job recently came our way in the form of a pretty garden handrail for a property in Combe Down, Bath. Made from mild steel, the handrail features pretty figurative scroll detail to the tops of each post.

Handrail scroll work

Pretty handrail scroll detail

Mild steel garden handrail

Garden handrail to match balcony railings


The client asked for a colour to match in with elements of the garden, particularly the balcony railing, which we were more than happy to do. A lovely addition to the garden!

Handrail colour

Pretty garden handrail


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

Rwandan Schools’ Orchid Project gains Ironart support

Ironart are delighted to have made a donation to the 2016 Rwandan Schools’ Orchid Project, supporting Writhlington School pupils’ and the Mendip Studio School’s  5th expedition last month.

2016 expedition

Rwandan Schools’ Orchid Project – 2016 expedition

This year the two week trip focussed on devising and delivering a range of workshops and treks to develop capacity in orchid propagation, science and conservation. The team was also involved in setting up a second dedicated Rwandan orchid laboratory based at FAWE School, adding to the first laboratory set up at KCCEM (Kitabi College of Conservation and Environmental Management) by the 2014 expedition.

Since 2012 students from Writhlington School in Somerset have been working with staff and students in Rwandan Schools and Colleges to help set up a Rwandan Schools Orchid Project with the aims of developing local science education, conservation understanding and sustainable development.

Well done to this year’s expedition and keep up the great work!

Ironart helps boost St Saviour’s Solar-ometer!

Be a Blacksmith for a day by bidding for a place on Ironart’s Introduction to Blacksmithing workshop, at St Saviour’s School’s Auction of Promises on Friday, 18th March 2016!

St Saviour's School Solar Project

St Saviour’s School Solar Project

All proceeds from the night will go towards the school’s Solar Project which is raising funds to install solar panels on the school roof. St Saviour’s has successfully been awarded a grant from the Bath & West Community Energy Fund (BWCE) for £10,000 which is conditional upon matching this amount from other sources.

The one-day course is aimed at complete beginners and is tutored by two of Ironart’s experienced artist blacksmiths, Jason Balchin and Martin Smith. Held in Larkhall, our workshops are open to anyone aged 16+ and  make a unique and memorable birthday or Christmas present.

You can choose from a selection of items to make and take home. We’ll supply all the safety equipment, tools and materials, a steady flow of tea, coffee and snacks to keep you going!

The course runs on a Saturday from 8am till 2pm and places are limited to just four people per session. Do check the calendar on our website for availability: http://ironart.co.uk/blacksmithing-workshops/


Here’s what previous participants are have said about the workshop:

“The things to make were interesting and the different techniques fun to learn…”

“I had a fantastic time and achieved so much more than I expected to. I really want to do another course with you guys….”

“Just to say I really enjoyed it. Our teacher was really patient and hit the right level of help/letting us get on with it. The day made me appreciate the skill involved. Would definitely recommend the course.”

Go on….dig deep and be a blacksmith for a day and help St Saviour’s SHINE!