One month on

Drg 1. view from Park opt

First view from Park (drawn Nick Bates BLF Ltd.4.12.2012)

One month on from the last post. We’ve been busy, despite the rain, ice and delays. The site is pretty much there now. Our steel containers and office are installed, water and electric are on. We’ve completed our preliminary cleaning (that’s a pressure wash in layman’s terms) of the existing Ironwork. The scaffold and wrap company are finishing as I write. By the weekend the site will be dry (ish) and secure. The weather is particularly cold today so the total enclosure of the site is quite welcome.

The site prep took a week longer than planned, so in the interests of safety, I decided to delay the start of works by a week. So the official start is now Monday 10th December 2012.

The ‘first view’ drawing is done. This is the most important and pivotal of the drawings we have to make. It shows the existing structure immediately before the project begins. The drawing is intended to be a working document opposed to a artistic representation (although it is that too). To this drawing, the harvested parts and missing components can be added in a drawn format. This can be done by overlaying or directly editing a copy of the drawing. It helps us orientate ourselves about the structure and communicate our intentions to each other and third parties. The drawing is accurate, but deliberately to an unspecified scale. Its important that all dimensions are taken directly from the existing ironwork.

The first job on Monday will be to compare the drawing against the existing Ironwork structure, testing the drawing for later use. Any discrepancies will be edited to the master document. As there is a front and back view on this structure two comparisons will have to be made. This will be followed by taking record photographs of the structure and noting of key measurements. These will be added to the formal report.

The National Trust have taken paint samples and the layers inspected by a Historic Paint Specialist. So that job has been ticked off the list. I let you know more when I do.

The first week will be taken up with on-going recording and assemble/assess the jigsaw of harvested and missing components, after which a definitive ‘List of Components’ will be compiled. This will help quantify/confirm the new material needed to repair of existing items and manufacture of new to replace the missing bits . This needs ordering ASAP, there is a long delivery time on new Iron so hopefully by the time it arrives we will be ready for it. The list will also help quantify/confirm the labour commitment needed to complete the project. In the tender process these factors had to be estimated. We were thorough in our tender assessment, so our end assessment figures should be close to our tender figures. I’ll let you know for sure at the end of next week!

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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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So what’s this all about?

‘Tijou’ Gates August 2012

Late Summer 2012 Burrows Lea Forge Ltd. was invited to submit a tender for the Conservation and Restoration of the ‘Tijou’ Gates at Petworth House West Sussex by The National Trust.

The Petworth House Gates are in the Baroque style and are a beautiful Victorian copy of a Jean Tijou (working1689-1712) design. To my knowledge Tijou used this design three times at Hampton Court. Facing the amazingly long, straight Chestnut Avenue of Bushy Park and between Sir Christoper Wren’s monumental Lion Gate Stone Piers is Jean Tijou’s Lion Gate(s), similar in size to the Petworth Gates, at the opposite end of the Hampton Court site are the Fountain Garden Gates, two smaller, separate entrances opening out into to Home Park. The Petworth Gates are unique though, their design moves away from Tijou’s design, losing the pedestrian gates either side of the main gates, replacing them with full height palisade railing. This offers a practical ‘country’ design of the Petworth Park setting.

The execution of the Petworth version is typically Victorian, solid, sensible and top quality. It has to be noted that the Victorians bring their own interpretation Baroque decoration to Heritage English Ironwork. The Repousse, Acanthus Leaf and Waterleaf work is without doubt as voluminous and ‘light’ as Tijou’s work, but seems to have a simplified perfection that can only be attributed to a Victorian artisan.

Reading back from my general survey report – ‘The ‘Tijou’ Gates compromise of a baroque, overthrown façade, utilising featured scrollwork of a medium to heavy weight type, water and acanthus leaves(face, cup and husk). Mortise and tenon joint construction throughout with copious screwed, collared and riveted components such as scrolls, rosettes and other contemporary decoration. Comprising a pair of entrance gates, 4 x pilasters (two sizes), overthrow (removed), palisade panel x 2 and quadrant panels x 2. All decorative embellishment is featured twofold (repeated on opposing face) throughout the façade.’

The Wrought Ironwork façade is badly corroded with many elements in a state of terminal decline, a lot of the Acanthus decoration on the gates and the entire overthrow was dismantled in past years and placed in secure, dry storage in a effort to preserve some of the structure. However the majority of the structural decoration could not be removed and has deteriorated greatly. The main structure due to its great proportions is in reasonable condition.

Burrows Lea Forge Ltd. was awarded the tender in October 2012 and here’s how the next part of the ‘Tijou’ Gates’ story goes……..

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