History of Driveway Gates
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History of Driveway Gates
When we think of electric driveway gates, the first image that comes to mind is perhaps a stately manor home, surrounded by pristine landscaped gardens in the rolling countryside. It is, without a doubt, a timeless look, regardless of the architecture style.
Traditional driveway gates are often made from wrought iron, with ornate embellishments crafted by expert blacksmiths. Wrought iron gates have been in use since the 13th Century, becoming widely popular in the 15th Century with the development of blast furnaces. Due to their malleable properties, they could easily be formed into elegant and decorative shapes to enhance the external appearance of a building.
During the industrial revolution in the 18th Century, cast iron and steel also became a popular option due to new industrial processes developed. Cast iron was widely used for railings which decorated balustrades and low boundary walls in the Victorian era. Due to their hardy nature, you can still see original Victorian gates, fences, and railings today, often accompanying period architecture.
Wrought iron or Cast iron?
Contrary to common belief, wrought iron and cast iron are not interchangeable terms which are used to describe aged metalwork. Though they are both based from the same metal, it’s the manufacturing process which defines the name:
- Wrought iron is iron that has been heated and worked into shape with tools
- Cast iron is iron that has been melted, poured into a mould and left to cool
There are also other definitive differences between the two; small amounts of slag are added during the working of wrought iron which gives it a fibrous property, allowing it to be easily shaped. This also means that wrought iron is more flexible and resistant than cast iron, which is relatively brittle when subject to pressure.
On the other hand, cast iron is realistically an alloy, consisting a mixture of iron, carbon and other metals such as silicone and sulphur. It’s melted in a furnace and poured into a shaped mould, hence the name “cast iron”. The result is a strong metal which is strong against compression, ideal for crafting furniture such as benches. It has the advantage of being less labour-intensive to craft than wrought iron items, as well as the ease of being mass-produced at a consistently high quality.
Wood is one of the earliest materials to be used in construction, with centuries worth of history in joinery, carpentry and woodworking in general. Due to their wide availability and versatile applications, they were widely used as gates and doors, with the oldest examples dating back to medieval times.
The elegant appeal of timber remains popular in modern times, particularly to complement modern architecture styles. Timber driveway gates are typically made from sturdy hardwood, such as oak and iroko, which has been specifically treated for weather resistance and protection against warping.