Reclamation – Cast Iron Railings

By Andy the stuff doer

As we are doing up our house on a budget, we have to take advantage of opportunities as they turn up. About a year ago the chapel up the road was being demolished. For modest sum we acquired enough of the original Victorian Cast Iron Railings to fit in front of our house. I reclaimed some Oak Panelling for our living room as well. I’m kicking myself for missing out on some of the Stained glass windows that would have been fantastic for the conservatory.

reclamation victorian cast iron railings

Victorian Cast Iron Railings reclaimed and refitted

After a year wrapped up in, hidden from the prying eyes of scrap gatherers, I final got round to fitting the railings. It’s involved a fair bit of learning, discovering how they where originally assembled and fitted. It’s not nearly as simple as fitting wrought iron railings with bolts etc.

Its been worth it, buying direct from the demolition site was a lot cheap than going to a reclamation yard or architecture antique dealers. Fitting it myself has got to have saved a small fortune over using a specialist, I don’t think many regular builders would have had the patience or skills to do a good job.

 The results make an amazing difference to the look of house. The neighbours are impressed and it gives me more of nudge to get cracking on with the rest of front of the house.

Full details of how I’ve fitted these can be seen here – Reclaimed Antique Cast Iron Railings

Please leave me a comment if this info is useful, your reclamation, restoration railings worked out differently or you have any suggestions.

 Thanks, Andy

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6 Responses to “Reclamation – Cast Iron Railings”

  1. Very unusual project, enjoyed the detailed snaps. Very interesting how they are made and cast into stone with lead. I like your car jack and wedge solution.
    The railings look the part!

  2. Thanks Gordon,
    Yes very unusual, I had a surf around before I started but couldn’t find anything about fitting cast iron railings. There might not be many people in the world looking to fit railings but at least now they can see how it can be done.
    Cheers Andy

  3. Amazing website & writing skills.

  4. via email:

    Hi,
    I wonder if you could help me? We are in the process of converting a barn and we need railings that lead from our living room down into the back garden (5 steps and a landing area). I have had some quotes for iron railings which are modern, lightweight and expensive (around £1600). I have seen some spindles in a reclamation yard for £300, but they are cast iron and wondered the best way to use them in your opinion. I assume they can’t be welded to any other metal so we would have to find a cast iron handrail. Any magic ideas??!
    Thanks very much!
    S.

    Hi S,
    No magic ideas I’m afraid. All the joints on mine are lead soldered. Welding cast iron to cast iron or steel is not usually recommended, the heat causes micro cracks although some specialists will be able to a reasonable job. A good blacksmith should be able to make up a rails from steel or cast iron tube and figure out a way to drill and tap the iron so it can be bolted together. If the spindles are long enough they can be leaded in to the steps.

    Wrought iron might be the easier option but as you say it’ll be expensive to get anything that will “grand” or “substantial”

    Good luck with it
    Andy

  5. This looks very good. You might want to keep an eye on those horizontal joints into the pillar at one end and brick at the other. I think they’ll cause problems if water can get into the mortar and corrode the metal. For some of these joins and gate hinges in stone gate posts I’ve seen those done in lead too. To do it you have to make a slightly more sophisticated shield to stop the lead daring out as you pour and to duct the molten lead in. You just dress the surface of the lead after its cooled to get it flush. The advantage is that the lead protects the metal and the moisture can’t corrode the lead beyond the thinnest surface so you don’t get oxide jacking. It might be ok but worth checking as it would be a shame if the rest of this lovely job was affected.
    Best wishes.

  6. Hi Tim, Thanks, it sound like you know what you are talking about. If I do get a problem with the mortared in ends, I’ll know what to do.
    Cheers
    Andy

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