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


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

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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…

Gateway to the Chateau D’Oiron…Overthrow

Whilst the gates go on to be thermal zinc sprayed ahead of painting, work continues on arguably the most decorative part of the job – the overthrow. Overthrows are seen on many period properties and are an opportunity to create a beautiful centrepiece to frame the entrance to a property.

Hand setting overthrow detail

Setting by hand

The overthrow for these gates – as with the gates themselves – has been made from scratch with all the scrollwork forge-welded together in the traditional manner and all set by hand.

All the components have been riveted and bolted together and set out as you can see here.

Wrought iron overthrow detail

Riveting and bolting overthrow detail

As a late addition, we were asked to incorporate the letter ‘S’ into the overthrow – coincidentally the monogram that also appeared on the original gates, this time standing for ‘Sturford’ – the name of the destination property.

Wrought iron overthrow monogram detail

‘S’ monogram detail in overthrow

Weighing in at approximately 125kg, this element will bring the total weight of the metalwork to over a tonne!

Wrought iron overthrow

Approx. 125kg of wrought iron overthrow

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…


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…



Tenon being heated prior to riveting



Lifting 450+kg of gate



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.”



Quality assured: Ironart achieves BS EN 1090 accreditation

EN1090 CERTIFICATEIronart has successfully completed the rigorous assessment process required to achieve EN1090 accreditation, the European Legislation which came into effect in July 2014 requiring producers and suppliers of structural metalwork to carry  CE Marking (Conformité Européene) . In the UK the legislation is also being enforced by the Trading Standards Authority.

CE Marking demonstrates that Ironart’s products and services comply with essential requirements under the European Construction Products Directive – including health, safety and environmental protection legislation. It also means that our products can be legally placed on the market here in the UK and across the EU.

As such all our structural metalwork now carries the CE Mark – either stamped or affixed onto the steel itself or where this isn’t practical, with all relevant CE documents supplied –  proving the highest quality and ensuring total confidence from our client’s perspective.

Andy Thearle of Ironart said:  “Embarking on the CE Marking process has been a significant undertaking for us here at Ironart and a substantial investment for the future. The entire Ironart team worked hard to ensure that all the requirements for certification were met. This has resulted in a streamlining of  our systems from initial client contact through to project signoff. We are very proud to have achieved the qualification, which I know will stand us in good stead for the future.”

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

Mary Reynolds on board with NADFAS grant

We are delighted to welcome Mary Reynolds to the team as our newest Apprentice Architectural Metalworker, thanks once again to the generosity of NADFAS.

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Mary originally comes from County Leitrim in Western Ireland and brings a valuable blend of skills essential to any aspiring artist blacksmith: strong practical ability combined with an artist’s eye.

She has already proved her commitment to the craft having recently completed a one year creative metalwork course at Plumpton College, West Sussex where she studied essential blacksmithing skills such as Forging and Welding.

Mary settling in the Ironart workshop

Mary has worked as an artist, graphic designer and photographer but was drawn to the possibilities of creating sculptural work in three dimensions. In 2014 Mary secured work experience with two metal sculptors: Giles Walker, contemporary scrap metal artist and kinetic and robotic sculptor and Alan Williams, metal artist and blacksmith, both of whom have given outstanding references of her work.

“I approached Ironart because of their expertise in both traditional metalworking techniques and restoration expertise, and also for the possibility to be involved in sculptural commissions. I’m really excited to be part of the Ironart team,” Mary said.

In her spare time, Mary enjoys staying busy; she plays the accordion, takes part in circus training and cycles.

Watch this space for updates on Mary’s progress!

Introducing Thomas Coffe

We’re delighted to introduce Thomas Coffe. Thomas is from Beaumont-sur-Leze in the South of France. He is a journeyman blacksmith apprenticed to the Compagnon-du-devoir, also know as the Compagnons du Tour de France. (NB Only follow that link if your French is up to scratch…. and it’s nothing to do with the famous cycle race!)

Thomas Coffe      Thomas Coffe at Ironart

The Compagnons du Tour de France is a French organization of craftsmen and artisans dating from the Middle Ages. The aim of the Compagnon guild is to train young men and women in traditional trades by acquiring experience trough travelling in various workshops throughout France and internationally too. Their traditional, technical education includes taking a tour doing apprenticeships with masters. A quick search on Wikipedia reveals this explanation

“The word compagnon (companion) is derived from the Old French compaignon, a person with whom one breaks bread. For a young man or young woman today, the compagnonnage is a traditional way to learn a trade while developing character by experiencing community life and travelling. Until recently, the compagnons were all male. Today, they can be found in 49 countries across five continents, practising many different trades.”

We are delighted that Thomas has been chosen to come and spend some time learning under the expert guidance of the Ironart team. He’ll be here in Bath for one year, and we’ll track his progress and projects here on the blog, so watch this space for more news!