Grade II* Listed
Due to our great industrial past many of our buildings and parks have interesting cast or wrought iron features that still exist in the form of gates, railings, bridges and other architectural features and details that imbue buildings with a distinctive character and quality synonymous with historical periods. Wrought iron retaining the individual character of the blacksmith and the forge or sand cast iron produced in the foundry are all the more important having survived the changing trends through time.
The modern trend is to paint ironwork black but thorough inspection can reveal the original colour and coating system, which may even have incorporated gilding. This is not only historically interesting but may be useful to the custodian, owner or local council upon deciding a colour scheme following restoration. They may decide to adopt the original colouring scheme as part of a more generalised restoration program.
Princes Park is a Grade II* Listed historic park in Toxteth, Liverpool, designed by Joseph Paxton and James Panethorn. The park has many historical features not least the surviving main entrance and impressive, ornamental cast iron gates known colloquially as the ‘Sunburst Gates’.
The gates were in very poor condition and required a number of specialist works including fusion gas welding. A number of unsuitable repairs had previously been carried out which needed to be removed. One of these included the widespread use of electric welding which is inappropriate in the context of conservation of historical cast iron due to altering of the metallurgical properties.
There were numerous losses to the gates, which luckily in some cases could be replicated directly from the other gates which were still intact. However, others required patterns to be made in hard wood to allow for the shrinkage in the metal upon replication through sand casting.
New gate gudgeons were made in stainless steel where it was not possible to salvage the original. Paint sequence analysis under an electron microscope revealed the use of ‘Invisible Green,’ in the earliest paint layers which was a colour in common use at the time. The gates once fully restored were painted in the original colour and the sunburst motif was gilded in 23.5 Karat gold leaf.