We have a beautiful Coalbrookedale Lily of the Valley bench in for restoration at the moment. Martin Smith and Ironart’s Conservation Apprentice – Cecilie Robinson have carefully disassembled it in the workshop ready for cleaning.
We are regularly asked what colour these benches would originally have been painted, and have done a fair bit of research on the subject. The Museum of Iron at Ironbridge where these benches were made, have no surviving examples of the original colour schemes so it’s been impossible to colour-match the original paint. In her book ‘Decorative Ironwork’ author and Curator at the V&A Museum Marian Campbell states that Coalbrookedale benches were “originally painted brownish to imitate bronze or green for patinated bronze”.
This bench (yet to be accurately dated) has revealed two shades of dark bluish-green right next to the metalwork – tucked away underneath where it wouldn’t have been bleached by the sun. This is certainly the closest WE have come to being able to accurately specify an original colour.