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West Country Blacksmiths win staircase of the year at Architects’ Journal Architecture Specification Awards

A bespoke staircase project made in Somerset by Exmoor based West Country Blacksmiths have won an Architects’ Journal Architecture specification award 2019 in the category of ‘Stairs and Lifts’.

The award was presented at the AJ Specifications awards 2019 in Manchester on Friday 15th February to West Country Blacksmiths and architects Foster Lomas.

Shortlisted against some of the country’s largest and most prestigious projects including the Bloomberg European Headquarters, De Beauvoir House & Aynhoe House, The Judges were fulsome in their praise for this the winning project.

The four judge panel which consisted of top industry experts unanimously awarded the prize to blacksmiths and said ‘It’s fantastic – a seamless collaborative effort between Architect, engineer and craftspeople. They clearly showed where the collaboration had taken it, and it just got cleverer and cleverer. You could see that refinement going on, and that story continues inspire others. They’ve gone to extraordinary lengths to perfect it. Everything is explicit; you can see how it works. It makes you smile.’

The staircase was created for a rural retreat in the nature reserve of Sartfell Mountain on the Isle of Man. Sartfell retreat plays a key role in the local outreach Educational policy with the Manx Wildlife Trust. Inside, the triple-height staircase and library provide a knowledge centre which provide a knowledge centre which sees the stair binding the building together.

The project is a real Somerset based collaboration. The house was designed by Foster Lomas, a London based architects practice which was originally founded by friends Greg Lomas and Will Foster who both grow up in Somerset and visit family in Somerset regularly. The metalwork design concept was developed between architects, CAD Designer John Hesp of Porlock and West Country Blacksmiths based near Minehead.

In total, 8 tonnes of bespoke metalwork of steel was used to produce the staircases, walkways and bookshelves. All metalwork was produce by West Country Blacksmiths at their historic National Trust Forge on the Holnicote Estate near Minehead. The forge is a beautiful and historic stone build forge which is owned by the National Trust and privately rented to the craftsmen of West Country Blacksmiths.

The team spent over seven months to develop the design and produce metalwork which was sent from Somerset to the Isle of Man on two Lorries with the team’s tools. The craftsmen of West Country Blacksmiths flew out to meet and install their metalwork which took over seven days to install.

The metalwork has been finished with a unique antiquing acid etch treatment with a protective lacquered finish with exception of the handrail which has been hand polished prior to the protective lacquer finishing. The treads and walkways have been made from perforated stainless steel which has been grain polished finished.

West Country Blacksmiths Co-founder Kieren Roberts said, ‘Winning the award has not yet sunk in. We dedicate alot of time to quality and focus on every small detail on every project and aim to produce the very best quality metalwork and to have be recognised by leading industry experts it overwhelming. We offer such a large array of services in all forms of blacksmithing, welding and fabrication. The majority of our work is much smaller local projects such as gates, handrail, railing, balconies to name just a few and continue to offer a ‘traditional blacksmiths down the road service’ repairing all sort of things for the local community. We are extremely greatful for the support we have from the local community and are very fortunate to also be given the opportunity to work on some larger scale projects.  We were privileged to be given the opportunity to work alongside the very talented and creative Foster Lomas architects on this project and we’re extremely proud of we all achieve as a team.’

The building itself was also a runner up in the AJ Architects ‘House of the Year’ category for 2018.

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