Quality craftsmanship by Glanford Vale Lodge member Don Barker has delivered new gavels and a maul for the Lodge, and restored some 160-year-old decorative ironwork in a Bradford Church.
The gavels were made possible thanks to a substantial lockdown donation from Bro Tom Bunford. Don made the heads of the gavels from English oak and the handles from copper, reflecting the work in the telephone industry in which Tom used to work. All were fitted into a wooden presentation box emblazoned with the Lodge name and the square and compasses.
Provincial Chaplain Brian Roberts was Acting Lodge Chaplain at the first meeting at which the gavels were used offered up a prayer, explaining that this was not a formal dedication of the gavels. As Tom was unable to be present at the meeting, Don presented the gavels to the Worshipful Master, W. Bro Sean O’Donovan who sent thanks to Tom for funding them, and expressed admiration to Don Barker for his construction skills in their making.
The church ironwork is at All Saints’ Church, Little Horton Green. Don, a Past Prime Warden of the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths, London, was entrusted with the restoration and re-decorating the two organ screens, pulpit, prayer desk and altar rails.
He said: “The ironwork was made in about 1865 by Francis Skidmore from Coventry, and over the years it had been over painted with several different colour schemes to suit the fashion of the times. The latest ‘incarnation’ was a coat of a dull synthetic gold colour which had deteriorated to a not too attractive orange gold colour, and was in need of attention.
“The pulpit hand ail was also loose, and needed repairing and the alter rails and prayer desk had been painted black and kept in the crypt where they had rusted and deteriorated.
“Having secured the handrail by re mortaring the stone blocks supporting it, the task in hand was to restore all the Skidmore ironwork to its original colour scheme having repaired and replaced many missing leaves, petals and motifs, taking care not to ‘over restore’ them.
“We had to establish what the original colour scheme had looked like, which involved the painstaking and time-consuming task of taking off each layer of paint and recording the results. This was done by gently scraping the paint layers off with a scalpel in some areas and in other areas using various solvents to remove each layer.
“After several weeks of this tedious work a colour scheme was discovered which proved to be very bright and vibrant involving many colours and a lot of gilding with twenty-three and a half carat gold. There are also some enamelled plaques around the base of the pulpit which were beautiful when cleaned.
“The Altar rails and Prayer desk seemed to have previously been cleaned and painted black, and were very dirty and rusted. No colours were found on these, so it was decided to establish a colour scheme for them which is in keeping with the pulpit and organ screens.
“When all this work had been done the next task was to manufacture the missing items identical to the Skidmore originals. I carried out many trials to get the sizes and shapes correct before these were made and taken to site and fitted using techniques avoiding hot working on site as much as possible.
“The painting started with a suitable primer followed by the colours which were very skilfully mixed by Sue Lee of Eskdale Restorations. It was not possible to match the colours to any modern colour charts, so all the paint was mixed by hand from base colours.
“The final result looks stunning, and I hope it will encourage more people to visit All Saints’ Church in the future.”
Some ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures of the work are shown below.