Cole Ironcraft rings in the changes at St Pauls Cathedral

Kent-based company, Cole Ironcraft has sympathetically restored a series of ornate railings at the St Paul’s Cathedral as part of a major scheme to refurbish the world famous 18th Century landmark.

In doing so, it has accurately recreated the original vision of one of the country’s most significant architects, Sir Christopher Wren.

It is the latest chapter in the company’s continued involvement with the historic London icon, which spans more than a quarter of a century. Initially, in 1974, WD Cole – which would later become Cole Ironcraft – carried out extensive renovations to the railings to St Paul’s North Churchyard.

And now, some thirty two years later, it has returned to the site to complete a highly involved contract that, as part of a £40million scheme to mark the 300th anniversary of the laying of the final stone of the dome’s lantern, has helped bring the South Churchyard back to its original best.

It comes after the area’s original iron railings, part of the 200 tonnes of original ironwork produced by the master craftsman of his time, Jean Tijou, had been deemed unsafe.

Setting about the highly sensitive works – commissioned by the Dean and Chapter of St Paul’s and overseen by architects Purcell Miller Tritton, whose Managing Director Martin Stancliff is the Surveyor of the Fabric – Cole Ironcraft carefully removed the railings from the original stonework. At the same time, it meticulously recorded which ballister matched to each finial. With thousands of them to work through, this alone was a challenging job that demanded total concentration.

Once removed, the repairable material was first blasted, before being filled and repainted to their original black finish. Any sections deemed beyond repair where recast with the assistance of a local foundry.

In September 2006, Cole Ironcraft began reinstalling the newly refurbished ironwork. Requiring newly created stonework to set into, Cole worked closely with stonemason, Stone West Ltd. In doing so, both companies demonstrated their impeccable standards to produce a finish that is not only of the highest quality, but matched the original works perfectly.

The South Churchyard project was officially opened by the Lord Mayor on 5th June this year.

Cole Ironcraft is part of the Cole Group, which also offers fencing and civil engineering services. The Cole Group, in turn, is part of the wider Countrystyle Group – Kent’s leading waste & recycling and agricultural contracting and managing provider.

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