Latest News

Further Endorsement for Ironwork Conservation Principles
The National Heritage Ironwork Group is delighted to have formally received an endorsement from Icon (The Institute of Conservation) for its Conservation Principles, which it published last year.  The Icon Trustees congratulated the NHIG on its statement of best practice, which specifically relates to historic decorative forged ironwork.  Siobhan Stephenson, Chair of Icon’s Professional Standards and Development Committee, said “We believe that these (Conservation Principles) align and reflect the values of Icon’s own approach. The Trustees were very impressed and encouraged by the approach taken by the NHIG as a part of the continuous development of professional standards and practice.” Read more

Dates Announced for NHIG CPD Ironwork Courses 
The NHIG is pleased to announce two Continued Professional Development courses for 2014.  The Conservation of Architectural Ironwork courses will take place in Chester on 19th & 20th May and in Cambridge on 6th and 7th October.  For further information or to book a place, please visit the CPD Courses page of our website.

Words from the new NHIG Chairman
At NHIG's Council Meeting in November Adrian Legge was voted in as new Chair.
He said “As incoming chairman for the NHIG I would first like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas for the end of the month.

On behalf of myself and the NHIG Council I would also like to express our thanks to the outgoing Chairman Chris Topp. As the first NHIG Chairman Chris was largely responsible for setting up our organisation with the objective of trying to bring together the craft skills of the blacksmith with those of the conservator in order to protect our fast disappearing heritage ironwork.


This is the reason I am involved with the NHIG.  It is saddening to see the continual damage that is being done to our heritage ironwork, often on a daily basis, either from ignorance or a lack of appreciation of its value to society. The NHIG was not set up to 'preach' to either the craftsmen or conservation professionals but rather to define and promote high professional standards for all those involved in the care of heritage ironwork. 


NHIG is the advocacy body for heritage ironwork, specifically forged ironwork, and I have been very encouraged by how much enthusiasm there is out there in recognising the need for our organisation. I am especially pleased to be able to announce the NHIG now has an expanded core team. With the completion of our Heritage Blacksmiths Bursary and Conservation Principles projects this year we are now looking to establish new projects. Much to discuss but we look forward to having an update to you early in the New Year."

NHIG Conservation Principles Launched

The first comprehensive statement has been prepared specifically for the conservation of ironwork.  The National Heritage Ironwork Group (NHIG) formally launched its Conservation Principles for Heritage Forged & Cast Ironwork at the British Artist Blacksmiths’ Association (BABA) AGM which was held at The Herefordshire College of Technology in Holme Lacy from 2-4 August.  

Read more






New Guidelines for Commissioning Conservation Work from Blacksmiths
What questions could a potential client ask to find out how qualified a blacksmith is to carry out conservation work? NHIG has drawn up some new guidles to assist those commissioning work to make an informed choice when selecting a practioner.  Read more



NHIG is dedicated to the safeguarding and preservation of wrought ironwork through promoting high standards of workmanship, conservation and repair by working towards the development and creation of;


GUIDELINES on the specification of restoration work

ACCREDITATION for blacksmith conservator/restores

RESOURCE CENTRE for ironwork information

COURSES studying historic ironwork



Kevin McCloud, author, broadcaster and designer said:

“I’m delighted that the National Heritage Ironwork Group exists to promote the conservation of historic forged metal.  As a former forge-owner, I know the value of training and traditional skills in this most specialised of disciplines and have often marvelled at the ability of a talented smith to form a penny-end from a bar of iron or the wriggling, fluid shape of a water-leaf or acanthus from a piece of plate. When the traditions of a craft are not taught, it instantly dies.  The NHIG bursaries project keeps the torch of learning alive, through study of historical metalwork and the teaching of the craft.”

Bill Martin, former Conservation Director for English Heritage said:

‘The field of architectural metals conservation has for too long awaited a framework to successfully bind together the essential skills of the metals conservator and the conservation blacksmith; the aims of the National Heritage Ironwork Group will go a long way to deliver this. English Heritage fully support these aims and we intend to contribute in every way that we can to ensure their successful development.’

Rory Cullen, Head of Building for the National Trust said:

‘The number of true craftsmen and women in terms of building skills has been in decline for far too long, as identified in the recent documentation on heritage craft skills commissioned by the Government. The National Trust is therefore very keen to support the National Heritage Ironwork Group initiative, which we hope will help safeguard the future of this wonderful skill and promote an understanding of the intricacies involved in the process.’


Poor quality restoration work example                                               High quality restoration work example

This recent example demonstrates the pressing need to guarantee that the practitioner is master of the craft before being recruited to work on listed ironwork: the scrollwork from a Grade 2* gate was poorly restored in 2001, necessitating the need for it to be done again, faithfully to the original style and quality of workmanship, in 2009. The photograph of the original restoration shows the lack of care in shaping components, the badly formed and rusted-through leaves, and the inappropriate use of electric arc welding.

Ornamental ironwork demands specific specialist skills, which are hard for the practitioner to gain, which deserve recognition, and which are distinct from those required to work other metals such as lead or copper. Ironwork is however one species of conservation for which there is at present no requirement for conservator/restorers to be formally qualified. 


In other conservation disciplines practitioners are expected to prove themselves by achieving some kind of accreditation. The field of heritage ironwork deserves no less.