In the second half of the 19th Century Oldham became the world's most productive textile producing centre, and by 1911 the town hosted an incredible 16.4 million spindles housed in over 360 mills. Elk Mill was the largest of these mills.
Elk Mill has recently been converted into a modern retail park offering big brand shops and a selection of dining options, but its glorious past is not forgotten with various tributes that point to the regions impressive textile history. ASF were approached by Vector Design to manufacture a modern cycle stand to help in doing just that.
The silhouette of a sheep was chosen to be manufactured in stainless steel; the sheep, standing large and proud, looks backwards over its own shoulder - a nod to the heritage of this historically significant site.
Specifier, Vector Design had struggled to find a manufacturer who could take on this project and contacted ASF to see if it was feasible. At this stage the method of manufacture was still up in the air and a number of options were investigated. Most methods were either massively expensive or limited in some other way - timescale being a key issue. ASF had to find a solution that was both within budget and time restrictions yet still produced a great looking product that was robust enough to endure the rigors of a busy retail park.
It was decided that a single skin, heavy duty one piece unit was the best option.
The sheep shaped cycle stands are manufactured in 20mm thick, grade 316 stainless steel. They are produced by plasma profiling 20mm thick stainless steel sheet, using computer numerically controlled machinery, and are finished hand polished. A process that itself blends the modernity of the project and material with the hands on skills of past industrial times.
Designed to be cast directly into the ground, grouting voids were profiled into the base below ground level for added stability, as well as holes to site rebar anchors for even more security and stability.
Once manufactured the sheep silhouettes weigh in at a hefty 69kg each of solid stainless steel.
The finished articles have met the brief and offered an artistic installation that has a definite practical application, modern in appearance but clearly referencing the history of the site and the region as a whole.
The heavy duty, high grade stainless steel finished hand polished offers a low maintenance and extremely robust product expected to last for decades.
Leeds City Council were constructing a new 'South' entrance for Leeds Central Station and requested a bespoke cast iron ground compass as a centrepiece. The compass was to be embossed with selected international, national and local place names, cities and points of interest, as well as key historical facts.
The requirement was that the compass be supplied in SG (Ductile) Cast Iron and left in a bare metal state to patina and weather over time.
ASF were approached with drawings already completed, to interpret and turn into the finished product.
As a bespoke product in cast iron, the first task was to produce a pattern.
The compass was planned in base sections - themselves totalling 17 parts, comprising a central rose pattern, 8 central surrounds, and 8 large outer spokes which housed the directional feature arms. In addition to this, a pattern for each directional arm had to be produced, which took the pattern sections to over 70 in all and included 1786 individual letters - all produced and mounted by hand by ASF's own in house pattern making specialists.
The manufacturing process then requires sand moulds to be taken from the patterns. For this to happen the pattern is mounted in a box which is then rammed with sand mixed with furane resin (a setting agent) - this leaves an inverted imprint of the pattern that is ready to take the molten iron.
Each of the 17 base patterns - mounted with the directional feature arms, were cast individually on a 'one casting a day' basis, quality checked and the next section boxed and set for moulding.
The castings are then shot blasted and dremelled by hand by the pattern makers to ensure they are exactly as per the original drawings supplied.
The ground compass is set into feature paving at the new south entrance of Leeds Station, where it expected to last many lifetimes.
Calderdale Council invited ASF to a planning meeting regarding the public area adjacent to St Michaels Church, Mytholmroyd.
An area was undergoing re-paving and renovation that would require a number of street furniture elements - the specification at this stage was pretty open with a general thought towards polished stainless steel combined with timber.
There was a need for seating, tree grilles, cycle stands, a step handrail unit and a length of quayside post and rail to core fix to a knee high retaining wall along the river bank
ASF was given a fixed fee and asked to offer some design solutions
Firstly, ASF produced a range of product drawings - some from standard range items and some completely bespoke. These were accepted in theory by the client. ASF conducted a number of site visits, some with and some without the client. Once the site was surveyed, measured and drawn a final specification was developed:
The stylish ASF 6012 seat was used, 6 in total. Manufactured in grade 316 stainless steel from recycled sources with timbers in non tropical, non endangered hardwood.
QUAYSIDE POST AND RAIL
This was designed as a modified ¾ height version of the usual ASF 211 quayside post. Manufactured in grade 316 stainless steel from recycled sources the design core fixes into the retaining wall and has a permanent cover plate to over the fixing area. The rail sections are a combination of stainless steel tubing and tension cables. Installation required a fair amount of onsite welding, so ASF brought in a mobile polishing company to finish the job to a high standard after installation.
POST AND GLASS PANEL
Abutting to one end of the quayside post and rail is an area of cantilevered stone paving overlooking the river. ASF custom manufactured a section of stainless steel and glass feature post and panel to connect cleverly into the curved profile of the quayside post. Again, manufactured from grade 316 stainless steel from recycled sources.
There was simply not enough in the budget for stainless steel tree grilles, so ASF manufactured ASF 327 cast iron tree grilles in our own on site foundry. These are manufactured in 100% recycled cast iron and to follow the polished metal theme of the other products, were finished in a slow heated clear lacquer, preserving the gun metal effect of the newly poured cast iron.
One end of the site has a set of steps to a footpath and bridge over the river. ASF produced a bespoke stainless steel handrail for this.
The ASF 8000 stainless steel cycle stand was used to provide secure cycle parking on the site
The Ruthin Art Trail is a partnership between Cadwyn Clwyd, Denbighshire County Council, Ruthin Town Council, with support from Bro Rhuthun Funded by Arts & Business Cymru, Arts Council of Wales Lottery and Cadwyn Clwyd
The Ruthin Art Trail was designed to encourage visitiors to the centre of Ruthin and develop community links with the craft centre.
Part of this programme was the restoration of an avenue of trees along Market Street.
Artists Lucy Strachan and Fred Baier approached ASF with conceptual drawings of bespoke tree guards for this part of the project, with a view to using them in conjunction with the ASF 303 tree grille - with a brief to not only produce the guard, but find a method to invisible fix the guards and grilles together.
The guards were manufactured in 275 carbon steel from recycled sources (a structural grade of steel). These were laser cut and rolled in two halves, to the correct diameter. The halves were then put together as bare metal and hand blended so that each section flowed perfectly, and the pattern was continuous through the full 360 degrees.
At the same point a bespoke frame was manufactured to house the ASF 303 tree grille and offer a shoe type guard fixing with all bolts hidden - so the attachment between grille and guard was not visible once the unit was installed.
The frames were finished galvanised and powder coated, and the grilles finished in metal primer and metal-shield top coat. The guards were hot dip galvanised, then acid etched and hand finished in a grey matt undercoat and pearlescent top coat as specified by artists Fred and Lucy.
ASF 5006 Steel bollards were manufactured form the same 275 carbon steel as the guards, and finished powder coated in a semi metallic grey.
ASF's sub-contract spin galvanising company (BE Wedge) revisited the Llanelli Millennium Park site after 14 years to take measurements on how the spin galvanising of cast iron posts had stood up to the harsh marine environment.
The Llanelli seafront site was visited on Friday 31st October 2014 for a full inspection.
The general appearance is remarkably good with absolutely no signs of distress from the galvanised coating on any of the posts. The surface colour remains a rich dulled grey patina. This is even more impressive when considering the position of some of the lower posts at the step access to the beach and their proximity to the continual sand and salt water spray.
Random coating readings were taken on the posts positioned on the towers, and on the posts backing on to the beach. The average thickness reading for the tower posts was 223 microns (with the lowest reading being 193 microns), the average for the beach posts was 208 microns (with the lowest being 183 microns).
These readings remain well above today's required standard and, based on their corrosion rate, should give a further 40 years of service before any maintenance is required. This is doubly impressive considering that even when the galvanised coating does begin to deteriorate, it will leave a cast iron post, a material that can be expected to last 100 years in normal use, with minimum maintenance.
These posts are also 100% recycled and 100% recyclable. Cast iron, although one of the oldest of engineering and architectural materials, remains one of the most practical, environmentally sound and in many ways modern materials there is.
ASF manufactures its castings in the UK and the products have only delivery miles on their carbon footprint. In ASF's Brighouse foundry the raw material travels 20 metres across the factory floor to be turned into finished product.