Chapter 8.

8.2 Conclusions

It has been seen from the gathering of samples during fieldwork that there is a very definite assemblage of types of iron-work repairs that can be identified. Above all there are a number of fixed forms which have passed down the centuries with the most prevalent being the L-ties.

The age of these components can be estimated by their typological features: how they are made and of what material. There are some very definite historical cut-off points. Charcoal iron precedes coak produced iron which was available only from the 18th century. Puddled milled iron became available after 1784.

Contemporary sources such as Neve in 1726 indicate that only English and German iron was used for the base work such as the making of firebars and undoubtedly wrought-iron ties, then commonly known as dogs. Quality and large work may have been made of Spanish iron.

Increased understanding of the properties of wrought iron was achieved by experimentation in the mid 19th century and led to the reduction of material cross-sections. This coupled with the availability of mass-produced components meant a Victorian uniformity was achieved in iron-work repairs.

Availability of wrought iron peaked in the mid 1800's until in 1856 mild steel was discovered and quickly superseded wrought iron for most uses. The simple iron tie most certainly would have been made of mild steel within only a few decades of its discovery.

Fixtures such as nails and screws have a closely recorded typological sequence and could be invaluable for dating repairs. Other fixtures such as staples may prove to be of no use in trying to establish a dating sequence as their form is virtually unchanged until the 20th century.

By developing an appreciation of the engineering principles of the wrought-iron tie, components that are both ductile, strong and resistant to repetitive stress failure we may draw on historic precednts to designs today's repair solutions.

8.3 Future Directions

It has been the aim of this work to promote a general awareness of the chronologies and typologies of historic ironwork repairs and their fixings and thus encourage effective recording of ironwork repairs to timber-framed buildings. These records could be descriptive photographic, drawn or even physical archives of removed fixings.

It is hoped that by doing so there will be a development of general and regional typologies that may be used in the accurate dating of building repairs and also to promote further research into the historic and technological value of ironwork repairs.

It may be possible to expand our knowledge as to why timber-frames fail and how ironwork repairs can indicate these failures. This knowledge would be invaluable when condition surveys are required or repair strategies formulated.

Repair strategies based on historical repairs contemporary with the timber-frame and its existing ironwork repairs can then be employed in preference to modern, intrusive repairs where cost is artificially given priority over form and function.

The use of real wrought iron must be considered as the preferred metal for historic ironwork repairs and this demands an awareness of the availability of wrought iron and compatible fixings today.

There is a genuine need for archaeologists and architects alike to recognise that historic repairs are of great interest, both as an intrinsic part of the history of the buildings but also as steer for modern repair strategies.

Appendix 1

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