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

 

Bustamante Pigeon

One of a pair of large Sergio Bustamante pigeons recently flew our way for repair, having suffered damage to its feathers and feet and unable to stand.

Broken feet

Broken feet

Made in Mexico in the 1970’s and measuring 18″ by 18″ of brass plated steel, Martin made repairs to the feet by re-soldering the joints and re-attaching the wooden structure inside the legs to create stability.

Damaged feathers

Damaged feathers

Martin said, “our charismatic friend had seen some previous repairs which unfortunately had been glued. Hopefully with the recent soldered repairs, he will continue to have a long and fruitful life.”

Post-repair

Post-repair

RECLAIM magazine inaugural issue features Ironart’s Martin Smith

We were delighted to feature in RECLAIM magazine’s very first issue (March 2016), with an interview with Ironart’s very own Martin Smith!

In the interview, Martin talks about his background in restoration, his passion for the Short Stirling bomber restoration he is undertaking and talks in detail about the process of the recent restoration of a beautiful Coalbrookdale Nasturtium bench.

 

RECLAIM front page - March 2016

Ironart's Martin Smith talks about his background in restoration and recent Coalbrookdale bench restoration project

Ironart’s Martin Smith talks about his background in restoration and recent Coalbrookdale bench restoration project

A punt at Prior Park!

Martin Smith’s punting skills were recently called into action when we were asked to repair the damaged penstock or ‘sluice gate’ at Prior Park in Bath.

The penstock, which controls the flow of water from the spring-fed middle to lower lake, can only be accessed by boat.

Penstock at Prior ParkUnder the expert navigation of Head Gardener Matthew Ward and the beautiful backdrop of the Palladian Bridge, Martin was safely transported across the water to make the repairs.

Penstock repair

Hard at work repairing the damaged penstock or sluice gate at Prior Park

Hard at work repairing the damaged penstock or sluice gate at Prior Park

Needless to say, a thorough risk assessment was carried out in advance by the National Trust which required Martin to wear this lovely red life jacket (and rather fetching he looks too, we think!)

James and Martin scale the heights

More pics from our work on the Evesham Abbey weathervanes – follow this link to our recent post about this interesting restoration project.

Martin Smith and James Cuthbertson went to Evesham  last week to dismantle the first of the four weathervanes. Working high on the scaffolding, they started with hand tools – thankfully the first one came apart easily, apart from the bottom section of the spindle which was very well secured and had possibly been cast into bronze assembly.  James and Martin unbolted the cardinal points and the crown from the top of the spindle, which then allowed them to remove the griffon detail. 65 years of weather had corroded and sealed this firmly on, so the two men winched up a gas set and heated the socket at the base to loosen it up. This was a bit nervewracking because the base of spindle also forms the clamps around the delicate stone pinnacles (see pictures on our previous blog post).Thankfully they eventually came free without damage to any part of the weathervane or pinnacle. The vanes were then winched down on two ‘gin wheel’ hand pulleys.

Having studied the weathervanes in detail, James is of the view that the vanes were made at the same time as the clamp assemblies.  Although the iron has weathered and looks old, the bronze has weathered better. Looking at the flames on the forged griffon they appear to have been flame cut from sheet – identifiable by the distinctive edge quality. James comes from Evesham and was contacted by several people who apparently know the provenance and history of the weathervanes, we’ll update you when we know more.

James said of this project: “It’s good to be involved in a restoration project that has a connection with the place I grew up, and it’s satisfying to know that once the restoration is complete these weathervanes will  be here for another long period of time.”
The four vanes are now here in our workshop in Larkhall, Bath. They will now be flame cleaned and minor repairs will be carried out by our restoration team before they are re-gilded and returned to Evesham.

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.

 

 

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…

Bespoke brass shutter bars

Martin made these bespoke brass shutter bars for a large Georgian house in Scotland. This was a fiddly project – but the finished results look amazing.

We don’t have any photos of them in situ, but will blog them when they come through our client. If you are interested in talking to us about shutter bars we have made plenty over the years, so please get in touch.

 

 

Railing restoration at the Assembly Rooms

These top hat finial railings are situated outside the National Trust’s Assembly Rooms in the centre of Bath and date back to 1771 the year the Assembly rooms were completed. We were tasked with making sympathetic repairs to the railings after they were damaged by vandals who trying to steal the lead sheeting off the roof. (And yes.. they were caught red-handed by the overnight security guard and the Police!)

Martin and Alan carried out the repairs on site, some of the finials had decayed and some were fractured upon impact.  It was obvious that there had been some previous repairs carried out as there are some mild steel replacement finials (probably done in the 1980’s) which were lacking in refinement. The team repaired seven railing finials in total. The original leaves were all salvaged and reused, Martin and Alan carefully brazed to fill the holes and damaged sections. The new versions were cut off and replaced with more delicate versions!

An interesting project in a very prestigious location – and satisfying to know that Ironart had a role to play in the history of the Assembly room railings.