Wrought Iron amd Cast Iron in the District
Wrought Iron and Cast Iron are very different materials with different qualities and uses. To recognise one from the other needs close observation.
Blacksmithing is one of the oldest of all trades and, because the iron must be heated to red, or even white heat, and hammered to shape immediately, while it is still plastic. Each individual piece of wrought iron has to be small. These gates are made of straight bars and a number of small, separate scrolls, each of which has been hammer welded, riveted, clipped, or perhaps even screwed in place. The top of the Elgin Avenue gate, for example, consists of eight scrolls joined by two hammer welds, six rivets, and two clips. Creating wrought iron flowers are even more complicated.
The Cast Iron Page
The Victorians lived in a cast iron world. It was the first modern mass production material and all sorts of things were made in cast iron. Articles which we make by stamping, extruding, die-casting, rolling, or other means, they made by pouring molten iron into sand moulds. This gave heavy, substantial, long-lasting, and often beautiful products.
Because the individual wooden patterns were cheaply and quickly made and factories were small, there was great variety in shape and decoration. Hardly two coal-hole covers were the same, and an ironmonger would carry twenty designs of door knobs. This variety has a particular charm in our even more mass-produced world. Today there are many designs, but built-in obsolescence ensures that the old ones become unobtainable and there is little actual choice at any one time.