Iron railing

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The wrought iron railings at St Paul's Cathedral, London. EH1194622 Railings to Churchyard of Cathedral Church of St Paul 04.jpg
The wrought iron railings at St Paul's Cathedral, London.
Designs for decorative railings from 1771. Encyclopedie volume 8-063.png
Designs for decorative railings from 1771.
Passers-by look for the phantom railings in Malet Street. Phantom Railings of Malet Street Gardens.JPG
Passers-by look for the phantom railings in Malet Street.

An iron railing is a fence made of iron. This may either be wrought iron, which is ductile and durable and may be hammered into elaborate shapes when hot, or the cheaper cast iron, which is of low ductility and quite brittle. Cast iron can also produce complicated shapes, but these are created through the use of moulds of compressed sand rather than hammering, which would be likely to damage the iron. [1]

Contents

History

One of the earliest uses of cast iron railings in England was in 1710–14 at St Paul's Cathedral, despite the objections of Christopher Wren, who did not want a fence around the Cathedral at all, and said that if there had to be one it should be of wrought rather than cast iron. [2] The set was made at Gloucester Furnace, Lamberhurst, [3] in the Weald of Kent and surrounded the cathedral, including seven gates. It weighed two hundred tons and cost six pence a pound. [2] The total cost was £11,202 [2] which was a fortune then. No further railings are known to have been cast in the Weald. [4] Other early uses of cast iron railings were at Cambridge Senate House and at St Martin-in-the-Fields, London. [2]

Wrought iron may be used to construct ornate railings. The Davies brothers of Wrexham made such railings in the 18th century and these are much admired — Nikolaus Pevsner described their work as "miraculous". [5] They made fine wrought iron railings for Stansty Park and these may now be seen at Erddig Hall. [6]

During World War II, many sets of iron railings in Britain were removed. Railings were usually cut off at the base; the stubs may still be seen outside many buildings in London and elsewhere where they have never been replaced. This was supposedly to provide scrap metal for munitions, but there is some scepticism as to whether they were actually used for this purpose. [7]

In 2012 artist Catalina Pollak created an interactive sound installation called Phantom Railings in Malet Street Gardens, London, the site of railings that were removed during World War II. Acoustic sensors pick up the movement of pedestrians walking by and translate it into "the familiar sound produced by running a stick along an iron fence". [8] [9]

Cheshire

In the county of Cheshire, hedging at road junctions and corners was replaced by black-and-white railings with a distinctive curved top. They are now characteristic of the area and are being restored where they have become dilapidated. [10]

United States

Stewart Iron Works in Covington, Kentucky was once the largest wrought iron fence manufacturer in the world. [11] [12] The factory supplied the decorative fences for the Panama Canal, the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., the Taft Museum, [13] as well as the entrance gates to the White House, the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center, and the U.S. House of Representatives and others.

See also

Related Research Articles

Wrought iron Iron alloy with a very low carbon content

Wrought iron is an iron alloy with a very low carbon content in contrast to that of cast iron. It is a semi-fused mass of iron with fibrous slag inclusions, which gives it a "grain" resembling wood that is visible when it is etched or bent to the point of failure. Wrought iron is tough, malleable, ductile, corrosion resistant, and easily welded.

Blacksmith Person who creates wrought iron or steel products by forging, hammering, bending, and cutting

A blacksmith is a metalsmith who creates objects primarily from wrought iron or steel, but sometimes from other metals, by forging the metal, using tools to hammer, bend, and cut. Blacksmiths produce objects such as gates, grilles, railings, light fixtures, furniture, sculpture, tools, agricultural implements, decorative and religious items, cooking utensils, and weapons. There was an historical opposition between the heavy work of the blacksmith and the more delicate operation of a whitesmith, who usually worked in gold, silver, pewter, or the finishing steps of fine steel. The place where a blacksmith works is called variously a smithy, a forge or a blacksmith's shop.

Wealden iron industry

The Wealden iron industry was located in the Weald of south-eastern England. It was formerly an important industry, producing a large proportion of the bar iron made in England in the 16th century and most British cannon until about 1770. Ironmaking in the Weald used ironstone from various clay beds, and was fuelled by charcoal made from trees in the heavily wooded landscape. The industry in the Weald declined when ironmaking began to be fuelled by coke made from coal, which does not occur accessibly in the area.

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Ironwork Any weapon, artwork, utensil or architectural feature made of iron especially used for decoration

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Malleable iron is cast as white iron, the structure being a metastable carbide in a pearlitic matrix. Through an annealing heat treatment, the brittle structure as first cast is transformed into the malleable form. Carbon agglomerates into small roughly spherical aggregates of graphite leaving a matrix of ferrite or pearlite according to the exact heat treatment used. Three basic types of malleable iron are recognized within the casting industry: blackheart malleable iron, whiteheart malleable iron and pearlitic malleable iron.

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Cast-iron architecture Buildings that make extensive use of cast iron in their structures

Cast-iron architecture is the use of cast iron in buildings and objects, ranging from bridges and markets to warehouses, balconies and fences. Refinements developed during the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th century made cast iron relatively cheap and suitable for a range of uses, and by the mid-19th century it was common as a structural material, and particularly for elaborately patterned architectural elements such as fences and balconies, until it fell out of fashion after 1900 as a decorative material, and was replaced by modern steel and concrete for structural purposes.

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Davies brothers of Bersham

The Davies brothers of Bersham, near Wrexham in north Wales, were a family of smiths active in the 18th century. They were particularly known for their high-quality work in wrought iron, of which several examples still survive in country homes and churchyards around the England-Wales border.

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Stewart Iron Works

Stewart Iron Works is an American ironworks plant in Erlanger, Kentucky. It is one of the region's oldest manufacturing firms and at its peak was the largest iron fence maker in the world. Stewart's is the second-oldest iron company in continuous operation in the United States. Based at 30 Kenton Lands Rd, its first location was at 8th & Madison in Covington, Kentucky. It is currently owned by the HGC Group of Companies but was originally established by the Scottish American Stewart family. The company was founded in 1862 and incorporated in 1910.

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References

  1. Fleming, John & Hugh Honour. (1977) The Penguin Dictionary of Decorative Arts. London: Allen Lane, pp. 398–399. ISBN   0713909412
  2. 1 2 3 4 Railings M.209:1–1976, Victoria & Albert Museum, 2013. Retrieved 31 October 2013.
  3. Hodgkinson, J. S. (2008). The Wealden Iron Industry. Stroud: The History Press. p. 124.
  4. Gerald Kenneth Geerlings (1957), "Cast Iron: history", Metal Crafts in Architecture, I.B. Tauris, p. 101
  5. N. Pevsner, I. Nairn (1962), Buildings of England, vol. 21 Surrey, Penguin Books, p. 363|volume= has extra text (help)
  6. Maxwell Ayrton, Arnold Silcock (1929), "The Welsh Smiths", Wrought Iron and Its Decorative Use, Courier Dover Publications, p. 113, ISBN   9780486423265
  7. Peter Watts (17 April 2012), "Secret London: the mystery of London's World War II railings", The Great Wen
  8. Roopa Suchak (11 October 2012), Chilean artist resurrects 'phantom railings' in London, BBC
  9. "Phantom Railings", Public Interventions, retrieved 19 October 2012
  10. Tony Bowerman (2012), Walking Cheshire's Sandstone Trail, p. 123, ISBN   9780955355714
  11. Sweet's catalogue of building construction (Public domain ed.). Sweet's Catalogue Service, Inc. 1913. pp. 498–. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
  12. Cincinnati Magazine. Emmis Communications. July 1991. p. 60. ISSN   0746-8210 . Retrieved 6 September 2012.
  13. Cincinnati Magazine. Emmis Communications. April 2003. pp. 135–. ISSN   0746-8210 . Retrieved 8 September 2012.