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

james-working-on-the-stringers-web

James working on the stringers at Ironart’s workshop

beautiful-balustrade-flower-detail-web

Beautiful finished balustrade with flower detail

cast-iron-landing-plates-web

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

panel-3-web panel-2-web panel-1web

 

 

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

 

Luke Hannaford celebrates 40 years with Ironart!

To look at him, you wouldn’t think it was possible, but this year sees Ironart’s Luke Hannaford celebrate an amazing 40 years of service with us!

Luke started with the company in 1976, aged just 16, as an apprentice under the guidance of Sam Chantry, Ironart’s founder.

“In those days you did a bit of everything, learning the trade on the job. I worked on so many local projects in those early days; refurbishing the railings behind the Theatre Royal, Rivers Street, Brock Street, a job at Bowood House…

Ironart hasn’t changed that much to be honest! I’ve seen changes in management and different ways of doing things. There were only four of us here when I joined, now there are 12. In terms of the work we get, restoration projects have definitely increased which is great to see. And we do less heavy work.”

Luke spends more of his time fitting and installing on site these days – he loves the interaction with customers and being out in the fresh air!

“You don’t often hear about people being in the same job for 40 years these days do you. I might have a reputation with the younger ones here for being a bit of a grump – I’m allowed to be after 40 years! – but really they know I love it here and its good to see apprentices join the blacksmithing trade just as I did all those years ago.”

Congratulations Luke!

Luke celebrates 40 years with Ironart of Bath

Luke in the workshop…

...and out in the fresh air!

…and out in the fresh air!

 

Bartlett Street Quarter: then and now

Many of you will know that we were involved in the restoration of the beautiful overthrow which hangs high up above the shops, cafes, restaurants, art galleries and antiques centre of the Bartlett St Quarter in Bath.

Commissioned in 2015 by The Bartlett St Antiques Centre, the project was a hugely exciting and at times challenging one – and one that sparked great local interest. Made of wrought iron and dating back we believe to the 19th Century, the restoration work was accompanied by some new bold, eye-catching gilded lettering. For the full story behind the project click here.

To mark the completion of the overthrow as well as showcase Bartlett St and its neighbouring streets as they are today, a street party was held on September 12th 2015.

Documenting the 2015 restoration project and commemorating the history of the Bartlett St Quarter, with the founding of department store, Evans & Owen Ltd. in 1863, a book has been produced to thank all those who were involved in the project. A beautiful pictorial way to bring to an end a fantastic restoration project of local interest and one that we here at Ironart are incredibly proud to have been a part of.

Bartlett St Quarter, Bath

Bartlett St Quarter Commemorative book

Bartlett St, Bath commemorative book

Bartlett St Quarter – Now

Bartlett St Quarter commemorative book - then

Bartlett St Quarter – Then

 

 

 

Royal Crescent Hotel, Bath Wedding Pergola

In terms of word of mouth, it’s great when a project we’ve worked on does the talking!

Back in 2013 we were asked to design, make and install a Dining Pavilion  – affectionately known as the ‘Onion’ – for The Yorke Arms ‘Restaurant and Rooms’, owned by Michelin starred Chef, Frances Atkins.

The beautiful structure certainly gained some attention in the gardening press and we were delighted to be commissioned by Bath’s Royal Crescent Hotel to make a similar structure as the centrepiece to the hotel’s new Wedding Garden, under which people would be able to exchange their vows.

Jonathan Stapleton, General Manager at the Royal Crescent Hotel said:

“The wedding pergola was very much inspired by Frances Atkins and the ‘Onion’ and will be a beautiful focal point for the new gardens here at the Royal Crescent Hotel. Couples choosing to marry here will enjoy a very unique and special backdrop for their nuptials.”

And the pergola continues to speak for itself…

We were delighted to see the pergola made an appearance in an April 2016 issue of Hello! magazine. It can be seen peeking through the window of a hotel bedroom, where the magazine featured an interview with former Olympic swimmer, Sharron Davies.

Royal Crescent Hotel Wedding Pergola

Constructing the pergola

Royal Crescent Hotel, Bath Wedding Pergola installation

Installation

Wedding pergola structure in situ

Wedding pergola in situ

The beautiful Wedding Pergola complete and in situ

The beautiful Wedding Pergola complete and in situ

Pergola detail

Pergola detail

Hello! Magazine 180416

Look through the window…

 

 

Ironart helps boost St Saviour’s Solar-ometer!

Be a Blacksmith for a day by bidding for a place on Ironart’s Introduction to Blacksmithing workshop, at St Saviour’s School’s Auction of Promises on Friday, 18th March 2016!

St Saviour's School Solar Project

St Saviour’s School Solar Project

All proceeds from the night will go towards the school’s Solar Project which is raising funds to install solar panels on the school roof. St Saviour’s has successfully been awarded a grant from the Bath & West Community Energy Fund (BWCE) for £10,000 which is conditional upon matching this amount from other sources.

The one-day course is aimed at complete beginners and is tutored by two of Ironart’s experienced artist blacksmiths, Jason Balchin and Martin Smith. Held in Larkhall, our workshops are open to anyone aged 16+ and  make a unique and memorable birthday or Christmas present.

You can choose from a selection of items to make and take home. We’ll supply all the safety equipment, tools and materials, a steady flow of tea, coffee and snacks to keep you going!

The course runs on a Saturday from 8am till 2pm and places are limited to just four people per session. Do check the calendar on our website for availability: http://ironart.co.uk/blacksmithing-workshops/

 

Here’s what previous participants are have said about the workshop:

“The things to make were interesting and the different techniques fun to learn…”

“I had a fantastic time and achieved so much more than I expected to. I really want to do another course with you guys….”

“Just to say I really enjoyed it. Our teacher was really patient and hit the right level of help/letting us get on with it. The day made me appreciate the skill involved. Would definitely recommend the course.”

Go on….dig deep and be a blacksmith for a day and help St Saviour’s SHINE!

Blacksmithing courses in Bath Life this month

Bath Life ran a useful editorial feature on local courses this month and featured our one-day ‘Introduction to Blacksmithing’ courses alongside other quirky and interesting skills workshops in the local area.

They’ve featured some of our local friends including: Bath Aqua Glass on Walcot Street, fab textiles based workshops at The Makery in the centre of Bath  and Gill Silversides Glasswork courses right here in Larkhall.

Here it is if you missed it.

Bath Life Magazine - August 2015 (2) Bath Life Magazine - August 2015 (3) Bath Life Magazine - August 2015 (1)

 

 

Canopy restoration, Lansdown Bath

This pretty Georgian canopy was reclaimed and restored on behalf of a client who lives on Lansdown in Bath.  Martin Smith carried out this restoration in the Ironart workshops in Larkhall. He started by stripping it apart, straightening all the sections and making moulds for the lead cast ball detailing. Martin had to make a new mould for the larger ball detail on the sides (which were new additions). We think it really enhances the back door to their garden.