BathIRON Balustrade Painting Party

The BathIRON balustrade is in its final stages of completion before installation in Parade Gardens, Bath this April.  It was galvanised in February in Newport, Wales and has been at the Ironart workshops this March, being fettled and painted. We were really happy to host a volunteer Painting Party on Sat 23rd March, where we invited volunteers to come and help us to hand paint the 300 or so musical notes.

This was a great opportunity for volunteers to come and lend a hand and see the multiple layers of process that have gone into making this amazing bespoke artwork a reality. We were delighted that people from all walks of life came down to do join us note painting, at times we had as many as 20 people painting, including three generations of one family! There is still some painting left to do, but it is great to have broken the back of it. 

We are really looking forward to seeing it installed in its final resting place in Parade Gardens, Bath.  There will be a celebration event called FireFOLK as part of the Bath Festival on the evening of the bank holiday Sunday 26th May 6 -10.30pm. Do come along and join us, you can find out more and buy your tickets here, hope to see you there.

Side Gates to the Rood Screen at St John’s Bath

Side Gates  in situ at St Johns in Bath

Two years ago the main Rood Screen at St John the Evangelist in Bath was fully restored and re-gilded. Since then we have been asked to quote for the restoration of the side screens and happily we have been commissioned to do the undertake the work to these beautifully made traditional iron folding gates. We are excited to have the opportunity to work on such a stunning piece of local heritage ironwork.

The job involves the removal and restoration of these panels that sit either side of the main alter in St Johns. They were originally made in 1905 and each gate has slightly different designs and motifs. There is some bomb damage with a scattering of shrapnel pock marks from when the neighbouring presbytery was badly damaged by a bomb which fell in 1942.

The gates are covered in an old shellac lacquer which will be removed as will any corrosion as part of the renovation. The one or two missing parts will be hand forged and replaced and it will be repainted in a matt black paint with gilded highlights to reflect similar gilding on the renovated rood screen.

Sir John Soane Inspired Balustrade

Sir John Soame inspired balustrade 2016

We made this balustrade for a private home near Henley in 2016. We have recently received the final images of it in situ. The balustrade was designed in collaboration with the project architect and was inspired by Sir John Soane’s Moggerhanger House.  Whilst it looks beautifully simple it was a deceptively difficult job with fiddly and precise ironwork. It’s great to see it in its completed setting.

Wells Cathedral Handrails

In 2018 we were fortunate enough to be selected to make new handrails for four of the towers at Wells Cathedral.
The Ironart of Bath van was a regular site at Wells Cathedral during the installation phase.

In 2018 we were fortunate enough to be selected to make new handrails for four of the towers at Wells Cathedral. The Bell Ringers Tower and the North, Central and South Towers. We had to create nearly 200 metres of 25mm and 30mm diameter pure iron handrail.

It was very exciting to be working on such a historic building that has stood in that place and seen a lot of things in its 850 years. In all that time no one had considered that they needed handrails and  to be the ones to put them in was a huge privilege.

Being a Scheduled Monument and a building of such historic and national importance, things had to be done to a rigorously high standard. With the architect having selected pure iron as the material of choice, matters were then slightly complicated by the fact that the structural engineer was unable to sign off a traditional approach to construction due to the lack of technical data on the material. After destructive testing of various types of  connection details for the handrail brackets, it was deemed that a traditional approach to construction, using riveted tenons, rather than modern electric welding could be used. This was a relief to all involved. It was a real challenge to then fit all the opposing fittings precisely into the stonework and handrail, so we came up with some ingenious jigs that meant we could do the job with certainty.

You can see here images of Jason working on handrails which were premade in the workshop on bespoke formers, no mean feat in itself! Once at Wells the need for methodical working and the complexity of fitting corkscrew pieces of handrail to ancient stonework with all its variations was quite exacting, it was deceptive, that such a simple looking structure was so hugely technically challenging but with the team’s combined skills and knowledge we are very happy with the final result which will be in the cathedral for many more hundreds of years!

 Whilst the fitting team of Rik, Stacey, Martin and Alan loved the atmosphere of the place and to be working on a job like that, they were all glad to be back working on a flat floor. Rik and Alan became a lot closer having worked in the confined spaces of the central tower!

New Arrivals

Stacey 2017 cropped

We’re very pleased to be welcoming two new members of staff this summer – Rick and Stacey.  A keen horserider, Stacey went into farriery after leaving school but soon branched out into other areas of metalwork including blacksmithing and jewellery, until she discovered a passion for historic pieces and ended up on the metalwork conservation course at West Dean.  Stacey spent some time at Ironart a couple of years ago and we were impressed by her work on the Bartlett Street restoration project we had on at the time (read about it here: http://ironart.co.uk/bartlett-street-overthrow-restoration-2/  So as soon as she finished at West Dean we were glad to have her back and are sure she’ll be a great asset to the team.

Rick

 

Although he started off as a chef, Rick quickly made the natural transition (?) to welding and spent many years building boats in Wiltshire.  He has a strong background in several areas of metalwork, including a spell in a 2CV restoration workshop so he’s certainly had a good training in the art of dismantling and reassembling intricate component parts.  In his spare time, Rick plays the synthesiser he built for himself, enforcing his ‘sonic mayhem’ on his patient family (1 wife 3 daughters).

 

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!