In 1727 at Croes Foel, part of the Birsham ironworks near Wrexham, artisan Robert Davies created decorative wrought iron bates for St Peter’s Church in Ruthin. The design incorporated such elements as elaborate scroll work, a cherub and Corinthian caps to the piers—no doubt bang up to the minute features recognised and appreciated as such by the then townspeople. Recently the gates were given a 21st century update which contemporary Ruthin residents and visitors alike can recognise and appreciate as being as thoroughly modern. After restoration and refurbishment by local artisans they are now illuminated at night by eco-friendly energy.Local artist Jessica Lloyd-Jones designed the new lighting scheme as part of the proposed Ruthin Art Trail, which will form a connection via Market Street between St Peter’s Square and Ruthin Craft Centre by the introduction of commissioned works by craftspeople. This particular part of the project has received funding through the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007-2013 which is funded by the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. Match funding was also received from Ruthin Town Council. Michael Nixon of MN Arts Associates co-ordinated the team assisting Jessica in the project management and liaising with the Church authorities, Cadwyn Clwyd, Denbighshire County Council and Ruthin Town Council. He said, “This was a very complex project with a number of authorities, subcontractors and advisers involved, but there was a very positive attitude by all the authorities involved, and this
made a complex project much easier to work on, and contributed to what is undoubtedly a successful combination of contemporary lighting with some of the most historically important pates in North Wales”.Jessica’s design is certainly innovative. Her use of modern day technology coupled with preserving the integrity of the historical significance of the gates has resulted in what she herself describes as a key-feature of the town square.While beautifully lighting the gates’ decorative features and the church pathway by night, the lights themselves are unobtrusive by day. No ugly floodlights here. By being incorporated into the stone pavement and path edges, they do not distract the eye from the elegance of the gates and their surroundings. And they are lit by eco-energy! A photovoltaic solar panel which will off-set the cost of the lighting is installed on the church roof. Discretely placed, it is not visible from the front of the church.The modern-day artisans who undertook the delicate restoration of the iron work were Flintshire Fabrications. According to Clare Jones, the director of the company, it proved to be a massive task for their blacksmith and his apprentice. The work of stripping oft-the old paint alone had to be done by hand and took five weeks. Regilding was done by a separate specialist firm. The lighting itself was installed by Ariel Electrics of Ruthin and the solar power installation by the Green Electrician.
Innovative work on an historic feature of Ruthin won RUTH BACON’S enthusiastic approval in September 2011