It begins….

Wrought Iron overthrow in store

It begins at last, the Contract with The National Trust is signed, we have a Purchase Order. Site preparation is booked to start 2nd week in November and will take approximately 2 weeks, so we should working proper week beginning 26th November.

In that week we will mock up the harvested parts we have and try to work out what goes where? A lot of the larger components have been tagged already by others, but they don’t really help us. We hope that existing fixings and paint/rust marks will indicate to an extent or confirm the existing labeled positions. The all important recording will then start in earnest. The recording will help us and others orientate and measure the work involved. Until the work has been estimated and although we’ve been quite thorough, it is an estimate none the less.

Acanthus leaves from the upper portion of the gates

Each harvested part will be labeled with our system, provisionally deemed salvageable or not, cataloged and put safely to one side for the moment. All the in-situ parts will undergo the same process, with the omission of setting to one side. Good conservation practice encourages minimum intervention, and if we can leave a part safely in its original placement we will. We may have to remove it to work on it later, but for now there is no advantage putting it away in a box.

The Wrought Iron replacement material will need to be ordered shortly and being sourced from a unique company it can be slow to supply.  On homogeneous repairs, we practice a ‘like for like’ replacement policy, for example in this project,  where a part of an acanthus leaf is/needs to be fire welded to another part or it to an assembly, we will try to match section and material as closely as possible, I’ll talk about Wrought Iron and this policy in greater depth later in another Blog.

Butress bracket c/w garland

Butress bracket c/w garland

Some paint will have to be ordered fairly soon too; as areas of metal are cleaned, we will paint it in a holding primer. When enough of the related assembly is ready, it will be brought to a near top coat. We plan to paint as we go on this project; our time constraints are quite tight. As section the nearing completion, in-situ or in store, it will be wrapped/clad/protected in preparation for a final coat right at the very end of the project (June 2013).

New components will be made off-site, but in the interests of conservation and convenience we’re constructing a small working Forge/workshop on-site at Petworth to repair the original work. This On-site facility affords an intimacy with the job that can’t be over emphasized. From previous experience there will be many occasions that something here or there will need adjusting or setting. There will be some interesting photos coming of this type of work, so keep checking this site, ‘follow’ or sign up to the RSS feed (once I get it to work!).

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About Nick Bates

I'm a Blacksmith working in Surrey, England, UK. My business, Burrows Lea Forge operates from a Forge just outside Guildford in the village of Shere. I've been trading as a Blacksmith since 1992. Burrows Lea Forge specialises in hot forged Ironwork, designing and making bespoke items for both the public and domestic markets. To the casual onlooker, there seems to be two sides to my business, Artist Blacksmith and Traditional Forge worker, but as an Artisan I see no difference, if you love forging hot metals as I do.... its all the same!
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