Arts & Crafts Gate.

Hurst Lea Gate

Hurst Lea Arts & Crafts Gate

To follow on from the last blog, I picked out of our archive a very fine gate  that we designed and made in 2008. Needless to say it is hand forged in the way as I mentioned in ‘Making Gates”

It was inspired by the striking Arts & Crafts house it belongs to. The arched top of the gate appears frequently throughout the building’s architecture. The adjoining garden needed some sort of entrance/frame/pointer so it was a natural choice to include it in the design. The in-fill was an open brief so I used a few signature shapes and scrolls, bearing in mind all the time the Arts & Crafts style. I left the middle of the gate fairly open to allow a clear view through and to frame the garden vista.

The gate is mounted on a pair of solid 40mm square posts. The ironwork was hot zinc sprayed to provide cathodic protection and the finished in a conventional manner. The last coat of paint applied was graphite loaded, so the ironwork could be polished to add a graphite  patina lustre.

Making Gates.

Forging a gate.

Hot riveting the dog bars on a traditionally made gate.

You can get a gate made pretty much anywhere that work with metal.

Burrows Lea Forge is not a general workshop, we’re Blacksmiths and we hot forge our work, there is a big difference! When you forge iron and steel, you improve the quality of metal. When a blacksmith makes a product such as a gate its assembled from many individual bespoke components, each one tailored to fit not only into the design, but interacts physically to its jointed companions.

The crafted assembly acts as one complete unit and if done well, is far superior aesthetically and mechanically to one made by other methods such as arc welding. The end product very different, even if its function is the same, there is of course a difference in price,  it takes time to make all those components fit perfectly, not to mention the individuality that goes with that process. To arc weld a gate together takes no time at all and doesn’t demand much skill or resource apart from having a steady hand, something to cut metal with and an Arc welding unit.

Here’s the link to the video we’ve made to partly explain the difference in the way our gates are made, as time goes on and the opportunity arises we’ll add more to this site and youTube.

Sidney Sime Bench

Sidney Sime Bench

Sidney Sime Bench

We finished installing this bench this morning in the beautiful sunshine. It was commissioned by Worplesdon Parish Council and Guildford Borough Council. Its a mixture of Public Artwork, Signage and Seating. Its eclectic as was Sidney Sime, this is the man the Bench is dedicated to, it is to celebrate his life and works. There is a very interesting Gallery at the Village Hall with many of his papers and works of Art; the Bench acts as Signage to the Gallery too.

The design is based upon one of Sidney Sime’s sketches. I interpreted it and drew full size drawings to enable the structure to be made. These sort of 3D structures need to be draw to full size otherwise they can be near impossible to make economically. The main structure is Mild Steel and there is some beautiful hot forged detailing, namely the leaves and roses surmounting the sign boards. The metalwork has been hot zinc sprayed (cathodic protection) and powder coated in a very dark grey. The seating is made from Hardwood Iroko supplied and machined for us by Mayford Joinery, it has an oiled finish. All the fixings are made from Stainless Steel.

I’d like to thank my good friends Andy Quirk and Graham Hart who helped with the manufacture…. thanks guys for getting getting the work done on time and for putting up with me!

Warhorse Ironmongery

Warhorse Ironmongery

A small selection of forged ironmongery made for the Steven Speilberg’s film ‘Warhorse’

We were asked to make some specific set decorations for Steven Speilberg’s film Warhorse. Its the first time we’ve worked for one of his production companies and the experience was good. As usual, for films and documentaries our specific remit was authentic, detailed hot forged reproduction of existing  samples or images (they already employ plenty of ‘cut it & shut it’ fabricators etc). The picture show in a small sample of what we were asked to make, it is all forged in an open hearth (coke fire) and by hand as the samples and images were.

On a personal note (this is a blog page after all),  I find this type of work particularly interesting, its very rarely these days we get a genuine opportunity to make general rustic implements and utility items, obviously the Blacksmiths in the past would consider this work as humdrum and tedious, but a Forging Smith its real time-travel to our Blacksmithing past.

In the past we have made itms on various archaeological and historical series,  a few of Ridley Scott’s film’s including the most recent Robin Hood, ITV’s Sharp series, currently we’re making set items for the film of  ‘Les Miserables’ and we have just started the Disney film version of ‘Sleeping Beauty’.


Deepcut Village Sign

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Deepcut Village Sign 2002

The Deepcut village sign was commissioned in 2002 by Surrey Heath Borough Council. The design concept was inspired in conversation by the Deepcut Lock Keeper at that time, Peter Munt. The design jumped into my mind as soon as he mentioned that he was always sorry to have to cut back beautiful wild roses each year so that the Lock gates could be operated safely by the canal users.

The sign is unusual for us because it surmounts a tubular mild steel post, we normally prefer to use tapered Oak Posts that we specially commission from a local Saw Mill.

Hot forged from solid sections of Mild Steel, then Hot Zinc Sprayed to catholically protect the metal, you can see we have coloured this sign extensively. The paint was sealed with a lacquer like sealer so the finish was a uniformly weather resistant. We often colour village signs in this way.

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Forged roses for the Deepcut village sign 2002

Football Railing, Guildford.

Football Railings

Football railing Public Art, Guildford.

Football railing was a Public Art project we were asked to design and make in 2011 by Guildford Borough Council. The brief was very specific, it had to be capable of withstanding considerable impact by cyclists using a path adjacent to a dual carriageway, it had to be curved and tall. The curvature and height was to be non concentric and variable. To ‘boot’ we had to include subtle reference in our design to Guildford’s long gone Football Ground which used to flank the site on the proposed railing

It was designed to be a very flexible railing system that offered all of the above. The design had all the elements that we thought necessary, all we had to do was to furnish it with football elements such as hot forged football like ball finials, football net like ropes hanging from the drooping top rails (like the old style football nets) and  shaping some random bars so they looked like a ball had been kicked through the bars causing a permanent reminder of the impact!

The Art is made from hot forged Mild Steel with a phosphated zinc finish.We like to use this finish on Public Art as it is neutral and maintenance free as well as incredibly tough.

Swaines Hill Gates, Hampshire.

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The gates installed in Hampshire

This one half of a pair of gates we designed and made last year (2011) and are worth a revisit. The gates are made from very large, solid sections of mild steel and are fully hammer textured. There is extensive hot riveting throughout the construction. Unfortunately the picture shows how difficult it is sometimes to photograph ironwork satisfactorily.

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Media collage of the gates in Hampshire.

So much to say about this project and I promised there would be a specific article, but it never materialised; its on my to do list now so something will happen shortly! Keep checking the Instagram, Facebook and Twitter feeds for more info on this one and others. There are widgets at the side of the article to save you logging on if you just want to see what’s going on today.

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Swainshill Gates, Hampshire, photo taken by Chris Potts, Sienna Earth

Luytens Handles and latches

Luytens handles and latches

Luytens handles and latches

These are Luytens reproduction handles we were asked to replicate by MD Joinery, Guildford. We make a lot of bespoke reproduction ironmongery. We specialise in Arts & Crafts styles in particular. Luytens, Henry Woodyer, Norman Shaw are some of the most common designers we are asked to copy.

Please excuse the cup I’ve used it an impromptu scale…. it is clean!



Woodbridge Park Sculpture.

Very big and very heavy!

‘Reeds & Seeds’ is a sculpture I designed and forged in Guildford for the Travis Group. Its approximately 1.8 tonne, 4 meters tall, 3 metres wide and 1.5 metres front to back. . Les Hammond and I installed it in 20 minutes with the aid of his very large crane!

The sculpture was expertly galvanised by Medway Galvanizers Ltd……. not an easy job, thanks Medgalv. Here’s is the link to the article on ‘Reeds & Seeds’ in their June 2012 newsletter,UI3X,63LHLY,2I8LS,1