Living in a Material World: Material Choices in Ironwork Conservation


Dr Dave Gent

Dave is a Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE) with a passion for bridge design. He is recognised as a specialist in the assessment and remediation of wrought iron and early steel bridge structures. He started ECSL in 2019 to deliver socially responsible engineering solutions, mainly focusing on the repair of historic structures. Dave is currently leading the restoration of Whorlton Bridge, the UK’s oldest in-service wrought iron suspension bridge. He will join a panel discussion on repairs to wrought iton, looking at material options and how they perform.


Rhys Brookes

Rhys is a highly experienced conservation architect who lectures on Conservation courses at West Dean College and Bath University (among others) and is an assessor for the RIBA in the accreditation of conservation architects. He will be giving an overview of materials in their primary (raw), secondary (refined) and composite (combined) states, examining inherent properties and how they can be exploited – for both good and ill – and what we need to think about in relation to conserving materials in their various states.


Peter Meehan

Coming from an archaeological conservation background, Peter soon specialized in metals conservation and has worked with English Heritage, the British Museum and the Science Museum. An accreditation assessor with ICON, Peter is now a freelance historic metals conservation consultant, and is undertaking a PhD through Cardiff University looking at paint coatings on historic wrought iron. He will share his research into their performance and the analytical techniques used to assess this.


Alan Williams

One of the country’s foremost archaeometallurgists, Alan is a specialist in the pre-modern process of creating and working with metals. For more than 20 years, he has been studying arms and armour at the Wallace Collection in order to shed light on the techniques by which they were made. Alan will share his processes and findings, focusing particularly on the use of cutting edge technology to learn about ancient materials.


David James

David James is a highly-skilled blacksmith with extensive experience of conserving historic metalwork at many of the country’s most prestigious heritage sites. He is the fifth generation of his family to run George James & Sons in Northampton. David will be using the practice of fixing and filling with lead as a case study for using traditional materials and techniques, looking at the pros and cons and addressing the question – we can, but should we, and why might we choose to?


Geoff Wallis

Geoff is a consultant specialising in historic metalwork and machinery. His vast experience comes from his position as Managing Director of Dorothea Restoration Engineers Ltd, of which he was a founder. For over thirty years he managed complex engineering and metalwork restoration contracts  on important sites throughout the UK. Geoff is Course Leader of the Architectural & Structural Metalwork Conservation course at West Dean College, and Council member of the National Heritage Ironwork Group, The Avon Industrial Buildings Trust and the Museum of Bath at Work.  He has contributed to a number of books on practical conservation, and lectures widely on the subject. Geoff will join the panel discussion on repairs to cast iron.

We are very grateful to NHIG Council member Kate Jennings of Coode Conservation Partnership for organising this day, and to NHIG Trustee Bethan Griffiths of The Ironwork Studio for consulting on programme content.

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