Happy 50th Ironart!

June 1967Sgt Pepper had just been released, Aretha Franklin’s Respect was at number one, protests against the Vietnam War were at their height … and as the first cash machine appeared on the streets of London, over in Bath a metal workshop called Ironart opened its doors for business.

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Sam Chantry, the original owner, made some of the classic Bath ironwork that you see around you today, including railings, gates and balconies at the likes of the Royal Crescent, the Theatre Royal and further afield at Bowood House.  Our very own Luke worked for Chantry as a teenager and sometimes finds himself revisiting the ironwork he helped to install all those years ago.

 

And 50 years later in June 2017 here will still are, on the same site in Larkhall, doing what we do best – making beautiful bespoke ironwork that will adorn your homes and gardens for another 50 years – at least…

sunflowerMeadow gate 26T5A2624Bespoke latches by Ironart of Bath

Lansdown bench

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Allium Gates – from concept to completion

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From the initial design brief – based on the concept of ‘bounteousness’ – to final installation, these ‘allium’ gates for a vegetable garden in Doynton have proved a challenge and delight in equal measure.  Our client wanted the design to reflect the bounty of nature which immediately prompted the idea of a swelling onion bulb. Once the design had been refined in collaboration with the clients, each aspect was hand-crafted in our workshop, where the onion leaves were forged in the fire in the traditional manner and bent into shape. We were thrilled to receive this message a few days after installation:

“I finally got to see the gates properly yesterday and we are absolutely delighted with them. You and the team have put a huge amount of ingenuity and creativity into producing an amazing feature and talking point for our garden.  We wait to see what the muntjac will make of it – they are resourceful little critters!”

As ever, we left site without being able to capture the gates in their full glory when the garden is at its most bounteous, but we look forward to sharing more images in the summer months.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Gateway to the Chateau D’Oiron…final installation!

Over the last few months we’ve been blogging about the 16th Century gates we were commissioned to make for a Wiltshire residence. Now into the final stages, the gates and overthrow have been beautifully brought to life in a mid Brunswick green and are looking pretty impressive!

Due to their size, the gates themselves were painted at the Somerset Lavender Farm in Faulkland – thank you to Judith and Francis for allowing us the use of their barn to do this!

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Halfway through the painting!

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Painted scrollwork detail close up

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Dean hand-painting the ornate Overthrow scrollwork in Ironart’s paint shop

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Painted overthrow

 

Final fit was then scheduled for the end of March – a pretty momentous time for the team involved! Over a tonne of traditionally crafted, beautifully ornate mild steel was now ready for installation. Transported to Wiltshire by trailer, the team – along the gates and overthrow- undertook the final installation very much along the lines of the trial fit back a few months earlier.

Larger scale lifting machinery was needed this time and the fit itself went very smoothly, the trial fit having helped smooth out any potential problems. Installation took the full day and once in, the client as well as interested local residents were highly impressed! The gates looked wonderful in their setting, perfectly in proportion to the surrounding stonework of the property.

Jason Balchin who worked on the gates said:

“The gates have been such a fantastic opportunity to utilise our traditional craft skills; it’s true that due to the size of the gates some aspects of the job were at times quite challenging, especially in handling and working on such massive steel sections! But we all agree that the finished item is something to feel very proud of and we’d love to get our teeth into more jobs like this one.”

A brilliant commission and a beautiful job well done!

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Finished scrollwork in mid Brunswick green

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The finished overthrow in place

 

Final gates crop

The beautiful gates at their new home

 

Restoration of a traditionally made gate

Ironart of Bath - gate restoration service

Ironart of Bath - gate restoration service

This beautiful wrought iron gate came in for repair, everyone in the workshop has been admiring the design, detail and workmanship on it – and it’s a classic example of traditionally made ironwork.

The gate was badly in need of restoration – there were multiple paint layers, rust corrosion and organic lichen growth, a broken lock box, broken fixings, missing scrolls and sections where the wrought iron had ‘blown’. Despite this, much of the gate was in good working order and well worth restoring.

Jason used various techniques to clean it up, he forged new scrolls to match with existing, and created a new sliding bolt mechanism. The gate was finished with a specialist paint system to give optimum resistence to future corrosion. It’s deeply satisfying to see the results that can be achieved in this type of metalwork restoration project.

If you have a rusty old gate that you think it is worth preserving for the future – please give us a call on 01225 311 273 or email us some images for a restoration quote because we’d love to help.