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Rattan Works & Bellfoundry

Soane's Rattan Works
The traffic was so much easier than everyone expected so we all arrived early.
The furniture is manufactured in two adjacent industrial units. One unit is set up to make the frames for the furniture, the other with weaving, or “randing” the rattan over the frames to produce the finished articles.
We were split into two groups to visit each unit in turn.

We were able to see the stout canes being steamed and then bent. It was very interesting to see the various jigs used to achieve consistency of shape as the canes were bent. We saw a machine used that enabled the cane to be bent in a complete circle, forming what looked like a wooden spring.
Moving on to the second unit we saw chairs, tables and lampshades  being randed.

The crafts people responded readily to our questions and soon members were deeply involved in explanations and taking part in demonstrations.
It was heartening to experience what seemed a very pleasant working environment with workers engrossed in their work. It was good to hear that the company cannot meet demand for their goods and are looking to employ more workers in the near future.

Taylor's Bellfoundry
We gathered in the museum for a video presentation which gave an interesting and thorough outline of the process of casting and tuning a bell. This was followed by a talk which explained the development of bell manufacture in the UK; the history of Taylor’s and how they became the most successful bellfoundry; now the only one surviving in Britain.

We moved on into a large factory space where bell head stocks are manufactured from steel and where the bells are tuned on an enormous vertical lathe.  The bells are finished here and are united with their bright red head stocks.

We were then led away quickly as the casting of two iron frames was about commence. Ushered into the foundry, we were deafened by the roar of the furnace. As we watched from  an overhead viewing gallery, the noise abated as the gas and air were switched off. The furnace was tipped to fill a crucible with yellow-hot molten  iron. This was transported along the workshop by an overhead crane to the row of moulds waiting to be filled. After this process was complete we were able to walk down and take a closer look. The heat was incredible.
A very interesting visit and such a contrast with the morning.                                                                               Rob

The foundry

 Video of the casting of the iron frames

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