All of us in the U.K. have lived with wrought iron for most of our lives. It’s found everywhere. Ancient ironwork smashed into pleasing shapes, structures and intricate patterns is still with us, the march of time barely giving it a second glance. Wrought iron opens our beer bottles, clads our ships and provides France with her most enduring icon.
The industrial revolution may have turned our heads towards the new mechanical means of production but handmade, handcrafted ironwork still holds an incomparable allure. In fact, in the 21st century, wrought ironwork and its blacksmiths have returned with some vigour as the desire for material permanence has trumped the built in obsolescence of the poorly made product.
Frame grab from Ugly House to Lovely House with George Clarke © Channel Four Television
The last commercial wrought ironworks factory closed in 1974 but despite this, the skill of ‘working’ iron (‘wrought’ is an archaic form of ‘worked’) is still with us and the products highly prized and appreciated for their quality. From the beauty of the Farrier’s Cage Five Bar Long to the humble handle, iron still just works.