History of Stackwell Forge

Paul Bodger's
wrought-iron gates forge a link with history



Forgework and blacksmithing is one of the oldest industries known to man, reaching its peak as an architectural art form during the late 17th century by craftsmen such as Tijou, Warren and Bakewell. Having been inspired by these craftsmen, Paul enjoys the challenge of reproducing the forgework of bygone years, either an exact reproduction or a more economic compromise.


Forging ahead with an old idea

BLACKSMITH Paul decided to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors when he uncovered drawings of Victorian gates in an old workshop.

The task to build the 12ft high ornate estate gates turned out to be quite a challenge!

It took Paul some time to 'scale-up' the drawings and proceed with the ambitious project.

All aspects of the gate was forged by hand, and each section weighed 900 kilogrammes.

The gates are used to promote Paul's skill at shows and open days.

HOT STUFF : Paul at work in his forge where he has made a pair of gates to a Victorian specification.
He said "I've made gates as big as that before but nothing so intricate. I did it as a challenge and to demonstrate my capabilities."


Gateway from the past

Paul Bodger's wrought-iron gates forge a link with history
by Wendy Coles
BLACKSMITH Paul is hoping his latest creation will be a gate to the future.

Paul has made a pair of wrought-iron gates from drawings which were unearthed by a friend demolishing an old blacksmith's workshop.

"There were lots of drawings but these gates were the most elaborate and the most challenging," explained Paul.

Now, after 10 months, the gates which are just over 12 feet wide and up to 12 feet high, stand proudly in his front garden.  But he is looking for a permanent home for them - preferably somewhere with a wide front entrance.

As well as creating the gates,( a job which included intricate craft work), Paul had to draw up plans of all the measurements. Only the actual size of the completed gates was given on the drawings.

He was unable to date the drawings, which contained fine examples of wrought-iron work. Although valued today at some thousands of pounds, the Victorian price is equivalent to £185
in decimal currency.

Paul adding the Finishing touch to his gate

Having set-up in business as a blacksmith, Paul saw the gates as the ideal way to get his name known as well as provide a very valuable learning process.

I don't think there is a gate I couldn't handle now. If I did this style again it would take me far less time."

Paul learned how to use a forge fire and how to shoe a horse as an apprentice farrier.



Seizing opportunities

Forging a future
After working as a farrier, Paul decided to convert his lifelong interest in metalwork into a career.

Paul is quietly creating a new market with his deft use of an anvil and hammer. The "smithy" was once a familiar figure in almost every village and town in the country. Today they are few and far between, but Paul believes he has uncovered a niche in the market for the traditional skills of yesteryear.

Article from : New Opportunities, published by GPtec
A growing list of clients are turning to him to help them recapture the charms of Victorian England. A pair of 12ft high ornate estate gates now adorning his home, provide a visible testimony to his workmanship. Gates and railings are his forte and as more people become disillusioned with the mass-produced, machine-made products, lovers of tradition are commissioning his talents to fashion them a high class artefact.


Paul is an avid student of 16th and 17th century wrought-ironwork and, in his spare moments, can be found with his head buried in a book of period architectural ironcraft. Illustrations of his handiwork have been mailed to architectural antiques firms throughout the country, an initiative which is already bearing fruit. One company in France has even asked him to design gates and railings for an historic villa and now he is in the process of compiling an illustrated brochure for trade distribution.

When GPtec (opposite) wanted to advertise their services in and around Cambridgeshire, they turned to Paul for comments about the development of his successful business.

GPtec used Paul Bodger in there as an example of successful business. 

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