A collection of ironwork related articles for conservators and heritage ironworkers.
New articles added as we find them. If you have any proposals for additions to this page please contact us.
A guide to identifying traditionally forged ironwork.
Emmerson, N. J. and Watkinson, D. E. 2016. Surface preparation of historic wrought iron: evidencing the requirement for standardisation Materials and Corrosion 67 (2), 176 – 189
The conservation of heritage wrought iron relies on corrosion prevention by preparation of surfaces and application of protective coatings. In contrast to industrial and engineering treatment of modern steel, conservation practice is not regulated by accepted national and international standards or underpinned by empirical evidence. This paper presents the results of oxygen consumption rate testing (as proxy corrosion rate) of historic wrought iron samples prepared by five commonly applied surface preparation methods and subjected to high humidity environments, with outcomes assessed by use of international standards employed in industrial contexts. Results indicate that choice of surface preparation method has a direct influence on corrosion rate of the uncoated wrought iron, which impacts on performance of the protective coatings that may ultimately determine survival or loss of our rich wrought iron heritage. By implication, more extensive empirical evidence is required to underpin and develop heritage standards for treatment of wrought iron which encompass specifics of the historic material, heritage context and the ethics of conservation practice. The introduction of such standards is called for in order to bring treatment of historic ironwork in line with highly regulated engineering and industrial practices.
coatings; corrosion; heritage; iron; protection; standards; surface preparation
For a copy of the paper please email Nicola Emmerson
by Kendra Wilson
Are railings always black?
Before the middle of the 20th century, ironwork was not black. It was much more likely to be green, gray, or red-brown.
Gardenista has a very interesting article on the development of paint colours used on ironwork that dispels the popular myth that Queen Victoria is responsible for all the black ironwork we see today.
Author: H.J. LouwThe Rise of the Metal Window during the Early Industrial Period in Britain, c.1750-1830
Taken from the 1987 publication by the Journal of Construction History Society and made available by the University of Cambridge this article by H.J. Louw investigates the metal window as an architectural feature of English building work.
From the University of Cambridge – Department of Architecture’s downloadable archive of the Journal of Construction History (CHS).
By Matthew Boultwood and Jo AdkinsLead and You
Lead is a very useful and versatile material, in traditional metalwork it is often used for fixings, decorative details and in some coatings. Lead paints for example give an outstanding and durable finish but its removal is a noxious process
By Patrick BatyThe Use of Colour on Architectural Ironwork
This paper is based on the text of a lecture given by Patrick Baty at "From Foundry and Forge", an International Ironwork Symposium held at the Victoria and Albert Museum on 28th October 1994.
By Quentin Collette, Ine Wouters, Corentin De Favereau, Arnaud PetersDevelopment of riveting technology through an analysis of Belgian patents (1830-1940)
The development of riveting technology in iron and steel structures in the 19th and 20th centuries were highly promoted by patents. Although riveting was widely used in buildings and civil engineering structures, little information about the development of this technology – how rivets were manufactured, various installation techniques – is available in literature. This paper discusses a database of patents related to riveting technology that was created to better understand the innovations in riveted connections and their technological evolution. The database includes patents relating to rivets registered in Belgium between 1830 and 1940.
Q. Collette, I. Wouters & L. Lauriks
Department of Architectural Engineering (ARCH), Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
Riveting was one of the major joining techniques used for the assembly of iron and steel structures. Being widely used since 1860, today most of the existing riveted structures need maintenance and possibly strengthening.
This research aims to improve the existing knowledge on this type of fasteners in order to stimulate less intrusive interventions during renovation, respecting the historical character of these structures.
By Quentin ColletteMorphogenesis of the Theory and Design Principles of Riveted Connections in Historical Iron and Streel Structures
This paper provides insights into the design principles of historical riveted joints by examining the content of the former calculation methods and their evolution over time. By investigating these theoretical foundations, this study reveals possible design errors and clarified the design choices made by engineers of that time.