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!

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

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!)