Overthrow restoration update

We blogged about this project two weeks ago. The team are continuing to restore the Bartlett Street sign overthrow here in the Ironart workshop. These pictures tell the story of the restoration work as it progresses under the expert eye of Martin Smith. For more information about Ironart’s Restoration services follow this link to that area of our website. If you have a project in mind and would like some advice about where to start, please get in touch.

Bartlett Street Overthrow Restoration

These pictures tell the story of an intriguing restoration project we have in the workshop at the moment.We have been commissioned by the Bartlett Street Antiques Centre in Bath to survey,  dismantle and restore this beautiful 6m wide overthrow which has, for many years been hanging high over Bartlett Street, a picturesque pedestrian side street in Georgian Bath’s main shopping district.

We are still not sure exactly how old this lovely wrought iron overthrow is but probably late 19th Century. Martin Smith is overseeing the restoration of the whole piece, carefully cataloguing each section and ensuring the appropriate repairs are made at each stage of the process.  Stacey Hibberd, Cecilie Robinson and Adrian Booth are all assisting Martin in the restoration. It’s such a beautiful piece of original wrought ironwork and our whole team appreciate the level of craftsmanship and care that went into it’s making. We can only wonder how many million people have strolled underneath this overthrow without even noticing it! When restored and back in situ the gantry will incorporate some new, bold lettering to catch the eye – “Bartlett St Quarter” – more pics to follow as work progresses…

Afternoon tea anyone?

These highly unusual cake stands were made for Ian Taylor at The Abbey Hotel in the centre of Bath by talented blacksmith Cecilie Robinson.

They were made to Ian’s design and incorporate delicate glass fruit by Adam Aaronson of contemporary glass studio Aaronson Noon. The organic ‘branch and leaf’ design created a series of challenges for Cecilie, not least trying to ensure that they were all exactly the same. These pictures tell a step-by-step story of the cake stands as they took shape in the Ironart workshop, at times giving the illusion of an enchanted forged steel forest! This was a really fun project to work on, and the bespoke cake stands look fantastic inside the Abbey Hotel. (ps. Apparently they also double up as very useful hat and coat stands….who knew?)

Regency gates for a walled garden

During January Martin Smith and Paul Ashmore worked on the restoration of an unusual kitchen garden gate from Cothelstone in the foothills of the Quantocks. The Ironart team was also commissioned to follow the original design and make up three new, replica gates to replace those that have long since gone missing from the walled garden, a challenge which we gratefully accepted.

The original gate is an impressive, heavy wrought iron example of complex, traditional construction, featuring tenon joints and curved punched rails and elegant forging. By Martin’s estimation the gate dates from c. 1820 and was without doubt specifically commissioned for the walled kitchen garden it graces. This was a really interesting and challenging project for the Ironart team who fully appreciated the craftsmanship and high level of precision with which it had been made.
Because the assembly of the original gate was so complex the team chose not to remove any of the component parts for cleaning. The extensive corrosion between joints had resulted in a great deal of rust jacking and failure of the tenon joints, all of which had to be meticulously cleaned by hand with brushes, chisels and scrapers. Any replacement parts were made by the team using wrought iron to retain the structural integrity of the gate. The original spring latch was reinstated as a working feature and a new stainless steel mortice lock was enclosed within a wrought iron box in sympathy with the original design. (For those that are interested, the main construction of this original gate was 1 1/4″ stiles, 3/4″ main bars and 2″ x 1/2″ rails – both straight and curved.)

The replica gates were tackled by one of our highly experienced blacksmith’s Jason Balchin, understudied by NADFAS intern Cecilie Robinson and Adrian Booth.
Jason’s first challenge was to scale down the dimensions of the original gate and create templates for the three new gates to fill the apertures in the wall. The new gates not only faithfully followed the design of the original, but were also traditionally made, with tenons, mechanical joints and firewelded features. The central diamond detail was made up of fire-welded joints and halving joins. All the ends of the rails had forged tenons which were heated up and riveted into countersunk holes on the stiles. It’s important to point out that these new gates were constructed using modern materials – ie: metric mild steel instead of imperial wrought iron.
Due to the complexity of this project the team had to assemble them three times during the making process to ensure that all dimensions and calculations had been accurately achieved.
Prior to assembly all the mating joints and tenons were flooded with a zinc rich primer before being sent to a local firm for shot blasting and hot zinc spraying and priming. Once this has been done they’ll be ready for their final paint application.

Jason Balchin says of this project: “It was really enjoyable making these complex, technical gates and a pleasure to work with Adrian on our first big project together – he did a really great job.”

 

Coalbrookdale bench restoration

We have been commissioned to restore a number of lovely Coalbrookdale cast iron benches over the last few months. These items are becoming extremely sought after and are fetching high sums at auction so are well worth restoring. Here are two separate restoration commissions as an illustration of the kind of challenges the restoration team here at Ironart are tasked with.

The 1864 Lily of the Valley bench came in to us in  July 2014. It had already been blast cleaned and previously very poorly repaired. Martin and Cecilie took the old ‘bodged’ welds off and replaced with fresh welds and brackets where they were missing. They added bits of missing leaf work  which were carved from scratch out of cast plate. The bench was then reassembled (reusing the slats it had been sent with) and supplied to our client with a red oxide paint finish.

The second bench is a lovely Fern Coalbrookdale which came in to us in June. We took paint samples as it looked to us as if the original Coalbrookdale green paint was still in situ underneath the new layers. We had it cleaned  which revealed pinholes in the original casting (shown). The centre mount on the back of the bench was broken and there was a lug missing. All fixings had corroded so Martin had to drill and tap and make new bolts. There was a missing front slat mount, and another on the back. The bench was supplied painted and the client replaced the slats themselves.

If you have cast iron garden furniture that could do with some TLC and would like a quote to have it restored, please get in touch.

Claverton Pumping Station range restoration

The restoration team here at Ironart have just reinstated a lovely cast iron range inside the Claverton Pumping Station for the Canal & River Trust. The range is a ‘Galdac Gem’ and was classed as a ‘portable’ freestanding stove, even though it takes a great deal of manpower to shift it! Ironart’s Martin Smith – who heads up our restoration team here – estimates that the range was made in the 1830’s as it pre-dates the registration mark system of of 1842.

Claverton Pumping Station was built in 1813 and is a fascinating example of local engineering history and well worth a visit if you are ever in the Bath area. The pump was in working order until two years ago and is currently undergoing a major restoration of it’s own. The Trust aim to have it up and running again by the end of 2015. The pump uses the power of the River Avon to lift water up 48ft into the Kennet and Avon Canal above. As their website states: “Burning no fuel and making no waste it is the ultimate in environmentally friendly technology”.  WATCH a Youtube video of the Pumping Station here.

The Trust believe that this cast iron range was located over the road in a cottage which was built at a slightly later date to accommodate the pumping station operators. We think that the range predates the cottage, and we’re assuming that it originally came from the pumping station workshop or kitchen. The Ironart team had to disassemble over 80 individual parts to repair. The Canal and River Trust acquired it and then obtained a grant to fully restore it.  Martin Smith, Paul Ashmore and NADFAS Restoration Bursary Intern Cecilie Robinson all worked on this restoration project which took the best part of two weeks to complete. The only part of the range that was missing was the ashpan which the team made new, faithfully following the design of a similar range we had seen. The Canal and River Trust now hope to have the range in full working order. Once the the flue, registration plate and bespoke firebricks are installed and connected they fully intend to use it!

 

The Anemone Gate in Larkhall

This morning we celebrated the unveiling of the lovely Anemone gate with a round of coffee and croissants! This quirky and unique gate was commissioned by a creative local couple who wanted a striking piece for their period property located just around the corner from our workshops here in Larkhall, Bath.

Andy’s lovely anemone flower design was realised on the forge by Simon Bushell, Cecilie Robinson and Jason Balchin in the Ironart workshops, galvanized and then handpainted by Cecilie.  The gate has already caused a flurry of interest and positive comments from passers by. The garden is also an eye-catching design, even in it’s dormant winter state it’s easy to tell that a great deal of thought has gone into the layout and planting. The garden design is the handiwork of Louise Bastow who runs Alchemy Garden Design in Bath and Bristol. Louise’s work is lovely, here is a link to her website.

If you are looking for a unique garden gate or structure for your home and garden please get in touch with us here at Ironart – we really enjoy this type of commission! Our thanks to the Davies for their hospitality and enthusiasm, and for the opportunity to make this gate, we love it.

Cecilie’s visit to Sheffield Forgemasters

NadfasNadfas Grant recipient Cecilie Robinson has just returned from a five day visit to Sheffield Forgemasters International, which is a massive industrial metalworking business and the biggest foundry in the UK. Sheffield Forgemasters make vast component parts for things like offshore oil rigs, submarines, ships and nuclear power stations. They have a whopping 800 strong team of people working a 24 hour operation with three rotating shifts.

Cecilie spent time in the pattern shop, where the scaled up drawings are turned into vast wood and filler patterns, then in the foundry where the team make sand moulds on a huge industrial scale. Cecilie had a go at welding with their team too, where she experimented with various rods – and modestly admitted she did “pretty well!”

Cecilie also visited the meltshop where recycled steel is melted down and elements are added to it. The day she was there they were making stainless steel components for a nuclear project. Pouring from a furnace into two 104 tonne ladles. The team at Forgemasters use computer programmes to simulate these pour processes, and their technicians can predict where issues will occur, such as problematic differences in cooling rates, air bubbles etc.
Then 12 hours later (late at night) these molten ladles were poured into the mould. This was apparently then going to take up to twelve weeks to cool and set! Ultrasound is used to indentify impurities in the casting which are then gouged out and rebuilt where necessary.
Amazingly the Forgemasters foundry is on a different site to the melt shop so the molten steel has to be transported on a flat bed lorry prior to the pour which is huge feat of logistics in its own right. Sometimes they pour up to six ladles per project. The whole experience was a real eye-opener and really worthwhile. Our thanks to the team at Forgemasters International for showing Cecilie around their impressive set up and making her feel so welcome.

 

 

The making of the Anemone gate

We have nearly finished this really lovely and unique garden gate. The ‘Anemone gate’ was one of those exciting commissions which fires everyone’s enthusiasm for our work. Working to Andy’s unique design, with plenty of input from our clients, a team of blacksmiths set to work on the forge. Jason, Simon and Cecilie were all involved in it’s making.

The Anenome Gate by Ironart of Bath

The Anenome Gate by Ironart of Bath

This sequence of pictures show the team at work forging what is largely a traditionally-made gate. For those who have a technical level of interest, you might like to know…

  • The gate frame was made with forged tenons
  • The gate styles were upset and formed (4 inches of material disappeared during this process!)
  • The flowers were forged from 3mm sheet steel, they were constructed with ball and thread, drilled and tapped into the stem.
  • The long tapers were drawn out to form stems which were then upset at the bottom to give a natural flared look.
  • The neat collars were put on hot
  • The lettering for the property will be laser cut in stainless steel and fixed to the plate at the bottom of the gate.
  • The finish? Well… it will be galvanised and then hand painted!

We’ll blog some more pictures of this project as the gate nears completion.

Restoration of gate, panels and overthrow at St Mary Tory, Bradford on Avon

This historic gate, overthrow and side panels belong to the St Mary Tory chapel in Bradford on Avon and date back to the early 1800’s. This painstaking and detailed work was carried out by Ironart’s restoration specialist Martin Smith alongside Nadfas conservation intern Cecilie Robinson.

Earlier this week we finished reinstalling the gates which look wonderful next to all the refurbished stonework. These pictures tell the story of the whole project from start to finish.