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WROUGHT IRON

HISTORY: Wrought iron has been used in building from the earliest days of civilisation, wrought iron door furniture being commonplace in Roman times. The structural use or iron dates from the Middle Ages, when bars of wrought iron would be used occasionally to tie masonry arches and domes. This use of wrought iron in tension guaranteed its use throughout the ascendancy of cast iron in the canal and railway ages, as cast iron is strong only in compression. The ill fated first Tay Bridge was of cast iron beams tied with wrought iron. The demand for higher dynamic loads in bridges and warehouse buildings, and the ever greater spans of train sheds towards the end of the nineteenth century, led the designers of buildings to acquire the technology developed to build ships of iron, and create beams of riveted wrought iron rolled sections. By the turn of the century this had led to buildings completely framed in wrought iron, and later steel, girder sections, and cast iron was once again relegated to an ornamental role.

Our main concern with wrought iron, however, will be in its application to gates and railings, frequently given an ornamental treatment by the blacksmith. There are wrought iron railings in Westminster Abbey from the thirteenth century, which, in essence display all the characteristics which we have come to know as ~ 'wrought ironwork', although lacking modern refinements such as symmetry and sweetness of line, but the great age of British ironwork, known as the English style began at the end of the seventeenth century. A French fashion for the Baroque style in gates and railings, swept the country houses of Britain, following the import of craftsman by William and Mary, and the greater part of our national stock of good ironwork dates from the early years of the eighteenth century. After the rise of cast iron as an ornamental medium, wrought iron tended often to take a secondary role, owing to its comparative expense, each piece being made by hand, while castings could be repeated ad infinitum, once the patterns were made. Technically, however, the craftsmen of the age of machines, excelled their forebears, as indeed they must while making mechanical components, so that the ornamental blacksmith work of the nineteenth century displays a perfection of manufacture not seen before nor since

After the introduction of mild steel, cheap because of its ability to be mass produced, wrought iron, and the craft skills associated with it, gradually disappeared in accordance with the general decline of craft standards in the twentieth century, until the last ironworks ceased production in 1974. From 1982 Chris Topp & Co. and later The Real Wrought Iron Company, have made available a limited supply of puddled wrought iron, derived from scrap metal. The subsequent years have brought a steadily increasing demand, as the blacksmiths of Britain have slowly taken up again the ancient skills.

This was copied from http://www.realwroughtiron.com/. Read more!: ALL ABOUT WROUGHT IRON!

 

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