It takes careful consideration when dealing with historic sites such as this and a delicate approach is needed from our organised, mindful team to ensure a successful result. We like to visit the site to establish what will be involved and the scale of the job at hand, so that we can begin our planning with a realistic viewpoint.
First, we needed to figure out how we are to remove the gates carefully from their current situation, in this case, the gates were attached to the soft sandstone in which the Gate House is constructed.
The disrepair of the gates was also an added cause of concern in this specific case, as weakness in the gates’ structure isn’t ideal when trying to move them. Causing any added damage would have been the worst-case scenario. Our priority is getting the gates safely to our workshop so we can analyse the task ahead in detail.
Our Cast Iron Services Team removed the gates from their location at Berrington Hall, with specialist equipment in the form of a Hiab Vehicle and strategic planning. Teamwork and the right specialist equipment make for a smooth removal and avoid potential damage whilst manoeuvring the asset out of position. An additional platform scissor lift accompanied this project to take any strain and effortlessly the large gates could be lifted safely out of their original position and transported to our Leicestershire workshop. Once our skilled team received the huge historic gates the process of unravelling the years promptly began.
Expert Restoration of Triumphal Arch Gates
Many layers of vintage paint needed to be removed with great care being taken. Following the correct disposal guidelines is always a must when removing historic solutions due to the likeliness of lead-based paint. Any surface damage that had occurred over the years was removed using a blasting technique. As the surface of the original cast iron was revealed a clever process of using white background magnetic ink can then be applied which highlights any defects that could escape the naked eye. Following this detailed inspection and analysis, a tailor-made restoration was created for the Triumphal Gates.
Rediscovering Triumphal Arch Gates’ Original Integrity
The findings were interesting and enabled the team to have an insight into the history of the gate’s previous repairs. It became apparent that several of the bars of the gate which had been repaired previously, had been replaced using steel bars, which is an inferior material compared to the originally intended cast iron bars. This incorrect repair had to be replaced in order to be in keeping with the gates’ true integrity.
Recapturing the Original Design and Functionality
The team created replacement bespoke cast iron bars to match the original design and welded them into place onto the gate. To ensure a smooth surface finish, the components were ground back in preparation for the protective paint applications in the final stages of the restoration. Our findings also revealed that a new latch needed to be created using cast iron to replicate the original fitting accurately. A specialist milling process was carried out to fashion this. We also found the gate’s original lock mechanism to also be in dire straits, it was considerably misshapen, understandably with the countless years of use it will have endured. The internal workings of the lock needed attention as the keys to the lock were no longer aligned, hindering functionality. A new brass plate and an appropriate weight knob to operate the gate was created. Having the original gate furniture still intact (although not functioning as it should) was extremely beneficial in this process as exact replicas could be created directly from the originals which provided the standard of accuracy we like to achieve in restoration projects.
Investigating the archives for clues in the form of original drawings or plans has become a common practice especially when having to create new elements, on this occasion, we had all we needed for reference, and new keys for the gate were able to be cut by hand and blue tempered which will improve wear resistance and longevity. These were then tarnished to reveal a pleasing aged patina in keeping with the age of the whole asset. Turning the key to enter The Berrington Estate’s Triumphal Arch Gates will be an effortless experience for the first time in years!
Protective Restoration of Berrington Hall’s Triumphal Arch Gate
Now that an integral part of the restoration was complete the final stage presents itself in the form of providing protection for the gate…bearing in mind it will have to endure all the various extremes the British weather delivers! A protective finish is paramount to the overall success of this project, to ensure this, a specialised heavy-duty metal primer is applied thoroughly coating the surface areas and creating a smooth base for the next layer to adhere to. Specific drying times are strictly adhered to in this process, these guidelines are imperative to achieving the correct hardening of each layer before the final coat of protective hard-wearing paint can be applied, which in this project was a historic paint colour of the deepest inky tone of Black, symbolic of power and elegance and the epitome of sophistication which perfectly completed the desired look for these Triumphal Arch Gates at Berrington Hall.
Homecoming Day: Reinstalling Triumphal Arch Gates with Pride and Precision
Re-installation day is an exciting one to say the least, seeing the progress from beginning to end and witnessing the effort and skill of the team involved is a time filled with pride. Although always a little nerve-wracking (which is normal we believe) the same care and attention as removing the gates are needed to return the gates back to their original position. Using the specialised vehicles and equipment for a second time the whole process is carried out once more but in reverse! Each half of the newly restored gates is carefully braced and lifted ready for installation and lowered into place one at a time, patience is key to aligning the gates and re-fitting the hinge pin from which each gate hangs. It’s a delicate operation as we need to avoid any damage when moving such substantial gates around in mid-air but once the gates were lowered into their rightful place, this was the point when everyone could breathe a sigh of relief! And have a group hug!