Most terraced houses in England would have had cast iron gates and railings – it was an era when people valued the time and trouble it took to create decorative and beautiful items for their own sake. However many railings and gates were removed during World War to be melted down to help the war effort although houses with a basement level or where the railings protected people from the danger of a large drop, the railings were left in place for reasons of safety.
Some Victorian railings consist of a mixture of wrought and cast iron. Wrought iron is very strong therefore it was used for the railings and main framing, and cast iron used to make the decorative panels.
Should I buy new or reclaimed railings?
Many decorative Victorian railing designs are available nowadays both as newly fabricated reproductions of original Victorian designs, and also there are many sets of railings available to buy from reclamation yards. The issue with reclaimed railings is that the paintwork is often in poor condition meaning that they will need to have rust and flaking paint removed before being completely sanded down, primed and repainted. Often this is more trouble than it is worth. In addition, reclaimed railings may not be on sale in one place with matching gates and accessories meaning that lots of hunting elsewhere may need to be undertaken to fulfil all of your requirements and find items that will marry well together.
Reproduction Victorian railings are produced as full height or half height railings. Full height railings are fixed and then cemented into the ground and are usually around 5-7 feet in height. Half height railings are fixed onto a low wall of around 2-3 feet tall and can be anywhere from 2-5 feet in height. The half height railings are screwed onto the low wall with runs of railing panels supported by railing posts at regular intervals. The railing systems are modular and each piece is slotted and fixed together and therefore they are easily installed by competent DIYers. There are fairly simple and also more decorative designs available taken from Victorian pattern books and once installed could easily pass for the original railings belonging to your Victorian house.
The Victorian Emporium sell a wide range of Victorian Railings, Driveway Gates, Garden Gates and Accessories