IRONWORK REPAIRS IN TIMBER-FRAMED BUILDINGS.
4. Historic Availability,
Characteristics and Use of Wrought Iron. 1/2.
Relating the fortunes
of the iron industry to the ironwork used in repairs on timber framed buildings
can be a useful indicator as to when the iron was inserted. There are some
very definite cut-off dates.
Whilst charcoal iron
has been available since the Iron Age, Pit coal coak'd iron was not produced
until after the 1730's and then was not widely available for some twenty years.
(Only metallurgical analysis could determine the type of wrought iron).
Neve tells us that in
1724 it is likely that only English iron or German 'Dort-squares' was used
in making ironwork repairs. In finding bars of ¾" section it may
be possible to attribute a period to the fitting. Very large bars may possibly
be of Spanish steel.
Milled wrought iron was
not available until Henry Cort's innovation of 1783 and so any work not bearing
the marks of the hammer could not have been produced until then.
From the 1850's the size
of the section of an ironwork repair is likely to be comparatively less than
an older component doing the same job. The section is also likely to be constant,
without upset bends or shoulders.
Any strap made of mild
steel cannot have been produced before 1856.