Fine ironwork has long been a defining part of the London street scene. Many homeowners are now reinstating the beautiful railings and balusters outside their properties, which were removed as materials for the war effort. Earlier this year, we helped one family to do just that on their home in South West London.
The five bedroomed, mid-Victorian property would originally have had ornate metalwork running along the front garden and leading up the steps to the main entrance on the raised ground floor—which is quite high. One whole length of the railing running along the steps was missing — along with some individual balustrades from the side that remained. New owners, Alexander and Elmerice Fairfax, were keen to restore both sides to their original state, as Alexander explained:
“This was not only about aesthetics but also the safety of our visitors, our three-month-old daughter and ourselves; standing at the top of a two meter drop every time you come in or out of the house makes you feel quite giddy!”“When we began looking into restoring the ironwork we had no clue as to who to approach, what the cost might be or how they would be made” Alexander added. “Following an exhaustive search, I approached perhaps six different companies—some local to us, some further away. Antonia from British Spirals & Castings was the first to respond and her efficiency, professionalism and can-do approach was clear from the start. Conversely, the other response I received arrived four weeks behind, contained a higher estimate and from the outset indicated that costs would likely rise. Following the experience of renovating our home last year, we knew that efficiency and reliability counts for so much and we are so glad we made the choice we did.”
Using images of the existing railing, we were able to identify the original pattern moulds for the ornate spindles and accurately recast them. Having taken the site measurements, we then worked on them in our London based workshops before returning to the property to install them.
Now in-situ, the new railings are virtually indistinguishable from the originals. This attention to detail was particularly important as the home is located within a conservation zone. Often, the stricter requirements within these areas can make owners reluctant to consider exterior changes, however, planners are often more than happy to support sensitive restorations.
“Our council is very keen that those willing to restore their homes toward their original condition do so” Alexander explained. “In some cases, they even provide grants to those considering installing the original ironwork and stained-glass windows — a feature of the local properties. After all, it helps to improve the appearance of the area.”
“We are thrilled with the results and were so impressed with Antonia at British Spirals & Castings and the craftsmanship of Steve who came to fit the railings. It’s lovely to come home every day and see the house looking as good as it ever has done, and our neighbours have been very complimentary. I would heartily recommend British Spirals & Castings to anyone!”