Treatment & Protection in Bath

Delegates from as far afield as Cumbria, Belgium and Athens descended on Bath in March for our seminar on the ‘Treatment & Protection of Heritage Ironwork’. In the Guildhall’s grand Council Chamber, course leaders Andy Thearle, Geoff Wallis and Toby Petersen gave a comprehensive overview of the challenges of corrosion, and outlined potential approaches to dealing with it, while case studies on Shrewsbury Flaxmill and Abbey Mill Pumping Station illustrated real-world application. A post-lunch walk around some of Bath’s ironwork, including a stunning, recently conserved church screen, provided the context and the chance to ask specific questions on techniques.

Feedback on the day was extremely positive, with comments including: “It was a great day, very well run, very informative, expert and interesting speakers” and “The really practical advice was great, and being able to ask questions and get informative answers was valuable, as was the field walk to see actual situations.” The amazingly bountiful lunch at Cafe Retro also received high praise!

Chris Mace, a student on the Artist Blacksmithing BA at Hereford, commented: “I’m very aware that whilst we are on a contemporary design course we need to consider historic ironwork, not only as we may be called upon to restore it during our careers, but because our own work will hopefully become historic ironwork in time. The lectures, well illustrated by slides showing many examples, covered how and why ferrous metal corrodes, how to identify the root causes of the corrosion, how to decide on a suitable scheme of treatment and repair and finally how to choose an appropriate system of protection. The flow of the day was just right with each lecture expanding on the information from the previous one, reinforcing the ideas being discussed. The afternoon case studies highlighted for me two important things: that historic ironwork has a place in the modern world, and that colour can enhance ironwork, not just provide protection.

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