Burwalls Gates

We were recently asked to restore the original gates to Burwalls, an impressive 19th Century listed mansion perched on the edge of the Avon Gorge in Leigh Wood, Bristol. Originally built as a private house in 1872 the property has passed through media and tobacco families before being requisitioned in 1939 by the War Office and then acquired in 1948 by the University of Bristol. The gates, which are likely to have been made by Singers of Frome, were in need of restoration and widening to fit their new setting at the entrance to a development of private luxury apartments within the grounds.

A beautiful pair of 19th century gates brought back to life

A beautiful pair of 19th century gates brought back to life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The restoration process included straightening crash-damaged sections, the reversal of previous poor repair work, replacement of missing parts, treatment of corrosion, and new extensions to both gate leaves to complement the original gates. We were also asked remove the original acanthus leaves and make new copper Tudor Roses to replace those that were missing, as well as restore and repair the remaining roses. Finally, new lockboxes were made and the gates sandblasted and re-painted prior to fitting.

You can read more about the intricate process of making a Tudor Rose here …

Original condition of lockbox

poor repair work 2

Previous poor repair work

Tudor Rose before

Original Tudor Rose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Making of a Tudor Rose

Alan is a natural when it comes to intricate processes and finer details.  Here he is making a Tudor Rose for the Burwalls Gates:

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Alan traces the template onto copper sheet

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… finishes the edges with a file

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… anneals the copper

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… creates detail and texture

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… ‘dishing’ to create concave petal shape

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… softens in the fire so that he can lip the edges

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… more dishing

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… bringing it all together

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… more annealing

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… adding the finishing touches

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Job done!

Traditionally made Courtyard gates, Oxfordshire

We were recently  approached to design and make a set of gates for a substantial 18th Century property in Oxfordshire. Required for the property’s courtyard, the gates were to be made in the traditional manner with their design reflecting the style of the front gates.  Made of mild steel, the gates featured mortice and tenon joints, individually hand forged finials and fire welded rings, as well as traditionally made snub-ended scrolls. To finish, the gates were thermal zinc sprayed and painted.  We’ll post photos of these stunning gates in situ soon.

Snub ended scroll work detail

 

Rings in situ

Traditional mortise & tenon joint

Gates laid out in workshop

Gates laid out in workshop prior to zinc spraying

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simon fire-welds the ring detail

Simon fire welds the rings – all 48 of them! – see more below …

Fire welding rings 2 Fire welding rings 5Fire welding rings 4

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

Jack joins us on his journey

We are delighted to welcome Jack Waygood to the Ironart team for a 5 week stint on his journeymanship. He joins us after smithing at numerous workshops including with Ian Moran in the Black Country, Jo Williams at Bristol Docks and Roberto Giordani in Cesena, Italy. Jack’s goal is to head back to Italy early next year to work with Georg Reinking for two months.

“I’m  really enjoying working at Ironart; it’s great to work as part of a such a busy team with such a variety of commissions going through the workshop.”

Good to have you with us Jack!

jack-in-the-workshop

Book your loved one a Christmas experience to remember…

Ironart’s Blacksmithing Courses are back for 2017!

We are delighted to announce 2017 dates for our ever popular one day blacksmithing courses…and in good time for those of you looking for that extra special Christmas gift experience.

These one-day courses are aimed at complete beginners and are tutored by two of Ironart’s experienced artist blacksmiths Jason Balchin and Martin Smith. Open to anyone aged 16+ they make a unique and memorable gift for all sorts of occasions, creating a lasting memory for the recipient – as well as any possible budding blacksmith!

Choose from a selection of items to make and take home. Or alternatively if you have a burning idea for something you’d like to make, just let us know a little in advance and we’ ll do our best to accommodate!

We’ll supply you with all safety equipment, tools and materials, a steady flow of tea and coffee, and mid morning snacks to keep you going.

Ironart one-day blacksmithing courses start at 8am – 2pm and cost £110 per person – they are limited to just four people per session, so tend to sell out quickly. Please check our calendar for availability.

To find out more or to book a place, please visit http://ironart.co.uk/blacksmithing-workshops/

Jason and his workshop students

Jason and his workshop students

Decorative staircase, landing and balustrade in Clifton

We are often contacted to make bespoke balconies and balustrades for period properties.

Most recently we have been involved in a comprehensive project to design, make and fit a decorative and highly detailed external  staircase, landing and balustrade for a townhouse in Clifton, Bristol.

The structure includes a landing radiused at one end with cast iron landing plates, a staircase with decorative cut stringers, cast iron treads with custom made bull nose edging to the sides.

The wrought iron balustrade features a convex handrail, traditional hot forged scrollwork, lead cast fleur de lys details and cast iron newel posts. The design of the balustrade was taken from the existing balustrade to the front of the property  which the clients were keen to mirror this design in the new balustrade.

Overall a stunning piece and beautiful exterior showcasing the property.

 

Working drawing for decorative staircase, landing and balustrade

Working drawing for decorative staircase, landing and balustrade

Existing ground floor balcony detail

Existing ground floor balcony detail

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James working on the stringers at Ironart’s workshop

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Beautiful finished balustrade with flower detail

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Cast iron landing plates

Detail to accommodate pipework

Detail to accommodate pipework

Finished balustrade, landing and staircase

Finished balustrade, landing and staircase

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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Thomas Coffe heads off…

Hard to believe but almost a year has passed since journeyman blacksmith Thomas joined us back in September 2015, as part of his apprenticeship with the Compagnons du Devoir  (also known as the Compagnons du Tours de France).

You’ll recall from an earlier blog that the Compagnons du Tour de France is a French organisation 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 by working in various workshops throughout France and internationally. Their traditional, technical education includes taking a tour doing  apprenticeships with masters.

As his year with Ironart draws to a close and with the next stage of his journey lined up, Thomas tells us how the last 11 months have gone:

“Looking back, the year has really been a great experience for me; I’ve worked on and seen so many interesting projects as part of the Ironart team, first working closely with Dominic then more independently. It has been such a busy environment. Everyone has been so helpful, welcoming and supportive. My English was very basic when I arrived – school level – now I can say a full sentence or two and have picked up some technical blacksmithing terms!

I came with only a small amount of ironworking experience and had never worked in a blacksmithing organisation. One project that stands out for me was making a balcony and balustrade for a property in Lansdown, Bath – learning new techniques and seeing the finished piece was amazing.”

Thomas at work

Thomas at work

Thomas leaves us in mid August and will move back to France, settling in Strasbourg for the next two years as he takes up a teaching role at the city’s Compagnons du Devoirs. He will be teaching 16-18 year old metalworking apprentices basic skills and techniques, as they embark on their own journeys.

“I am really looking forward to the next stage in my learning – and also a little nervous! It will be a very busy two years and I have never taught before so again I will have a lot to learn myself.

The confidence Andy and the team at Ironart have shown me has helped me already and I’m looking forward to talking about and sharing my experiences with other compagnons when I return to France. I am very lucky to have had this experience and would definitely recommend it to other apprentices. Thank you to Andy and everyone at Ironart for everything – I can actually speak English now!”

We wish Thomas all the very best!

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