Ironwork in the park
Blacksmiths have started a three-month project to help an historic greenhouse start a new, working life. Ben Crosthwaite and Tobias Cobrin are cleaning, painting or replacing cast iron and steel parts on the structure at Alexandra Park, Hastings, so that its ventilation windows can function again. Lynda Foy writes.
The project is part of plans by the Alexandra Park Greenhouse Group to restore the park’s 100ft, 1930s greenhouse and establish it once again as a valuable community, horticultural resource.
Last year the group’s volunteers celebrated winning an £8,000 grant from Tesco’s Bags of Help initiative to pay for the work by Ben and Tobias from the Over Wrought Forge at the Britannia Enterprise Centre, Waterworks Road, Hastings.
This month (March) the blacksmiths, who studied at Hereford College of Technology, started dismantling rusted and dirty cogs, screws, bolts and rods to clean and lubricate them. Some parts, such as crank boxes which form part of the mechanism to open the windows, have been taken back to the forge for submerging in diesel oil. After a few days, the boxes are cleaned and lubricated before receiving a coat of primer paint and then painted black with the maker’s name picked out in white or gold paint. Each part is numbered so that the mechanism can be put back together correctly.
While Ben concentrates on this work at the forge, Tobias has been painting bolts and other parts at the greenhouse with strong solutions to dissolve rust so that they can be removed and either replaced or cleaned for re-use.
They plan to reinstall the cast iron and steel mechanisms as they go along so that visitors can see the progress they are making. Ben said: “I like the methodical nature of doing something like this.” Tobias commented: “It feels odd having such a large job because we are not actually making anything. I was worried that we might need welders and blow torches, but many of the parts have been removed without problem.”
Group chairman Linda Pearson, who praised the blacksmiths’ work, said more strong volunteers were needed to clear terraced land at the rear of the greenhouse so that a woodland garden and a prairie garden with different type of grasses could be planted there.
Volunteers have already planted spring bulbs donated by Simply Gardens, of George Street in Hastings Old Town. Work to lay crazy paving in parts of the greenhouse has also started. A recent sale of blubs and plants at the greenhouse and at a stall beside the Eat @the Park Cafe raised £138 for group funds.
Over Wrought Forge, which specialises in artistic ironwork including fences and gates, can be contacted on 07854467438 or see their website http://www.overwroughtforge.co.uk. More details about voluntary work and the greenhouse group’s project can be found at Greenhouse Alexandra Park or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone 01424 442790.
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