It has been an exciting time for Exmoor-based craftsmen West Country Blacksmiths who were featured on Grand Designs last week (read more here).
For another high-profile commission, they have also recently produced over 750 bespoke stainless-steel flowers and 4,500 leaves for the prestigious Chelsea Barracks development, built on the former Army barracks which was brought by the Qatari Diar.
The blacksmiths were awarded the unique opportunity to work in collaboration with London-based designer Tord Boontje to develop the designs and make the metalwork used to decorate the Townhouse balustrades of the development.
Each balcony of the development has a different combination of 12 flowers – all commonly found in Britain. The flowers include wild roses, garden roses, winter roses, almond blossoms, carnations, peonies, cosmos, violets and anemones.
The blacksmiths received high praise for this project and were pleased to welcome a team from Chelsea Barracks to film them at work for promotional materials and a documentary due in 2020.
Designer Tord Boontje said, “Nowadays, it’s not so common to find blacksmiths – and especially really good ones. The better the blacksmith is, the higher the quality of the craftsmanship and the more beautifully my designs will be translated. So I spent a lot of time researching blacksmiths in Britain, and visited many different workshops.
“Eventually, I struck on West Country Blacksmiths, an exciting and accomplished team of metalworkers operating out of a seventeenth-century forge in Somerset. “They are a very highly skilled, energetic young team who are a pleasure to work with. And they have a very nice way of interpreting my designs and making them into metal.”
Closer to home, West Country Blacksmiths have restored the weathervane on the bell tower of the Market House Museum in Watchet as part of the museum’s 40th anniversary celebrations.
The wrought-iron and copper weathervane has been a feature of the Watchet rooftops for over 32 years. However, both time and exposure to the sea air had taken its toll on the weathervane, damaging the copper sailing boat and corroding the metalwork.
Allerford Forge were commissioned to restore the weathervane by the museum committee and fully funded by the Watchet Market House Museum.
The craftmen removed the weathervane for a short period to allow the ship’s sails to be replaced and the remaining copperwork to be cleaned and repaired. The smiths also restored the mainframe of the weathervane by removing over 30 years of rust and paint from the metalwork, reforging missing and damaged components and weld repairing where required.
Once the repairs were completed the blacksmiths galvanised and heritage black painted the brackets and repatinated the copper top.
The weathervane was reinstalled by the team in October and it is hoped to be there for many more years to come.
The weathervane is owned by the museum and was first installed in the bell tower in 1987, replacing a plain one which is now displayed on the lighthouse in the harbour.