Erwin's on a mission to replace railings that were used for war effort
By Trevor Brookes - Editor
A RETIRED metal worker is on a mission to help restore and reinstate iron railings and gates in historic parts of Barnard Castle after they were cut off for the war effort.
A massive public appeal in the 1940s led to ironwork being removed across Britain. The public was told they would be used to make munitions and tanks but it’s been claimed that only 26 per cent was ever used because the metal was unsuitable.
Historians say the effort was allowed to continue because of its propaganda value.
On many properties the historic railings have never been replaced.
Barnard Castle resident Erwin Taube, who worked as a boiler maker, was asked to reinstate the railings at one property – and his work was so impressive other residents are asking to have theirs done as well. So far he's worked on ten iron gates and half a dozen fences mostly in the Galgate, King Street and Cambridge Terrace area.
Mr Taube said: “I don’t really do it for the money as I've got a pension but I have a passion for engineering and for a historic town like Barney to be as it should be. It’s snowballed. I’ve got enough work on till Christmas. Deep down I have always wanted to do something like this – I have always worked in ship yards and oil rigs.”
The 68-year-old has a small workshop and orders in the parts before putting them all together for his customers.
“They look as near as possible to the original style which is quite difficult to do,” he said. The idea came to him 30 years ago when he approached the manager of Barclays Bank about reinstating the railings.
“He told me, ‘sorry but we are going for the modern look’. I couldn’t believe it,” said Mr Taube.
A highlight of his work so far has been restoring a gate in Galgate which belonged to the Smith family who ran Smith Works in the town.
Mr Taube said: “He told the authorities that he would get his staff to cut down all the railings for free if he was allowed to keep his gate. It's the only original one, as far as I know. The craftsmanship is class.”
Another pleasing job was the old orphanage in King Street where he restored an ornate fence and gates.
“I love to hear the clink of the gate. If there’s not a clink I’ll re-do it,” he said.
Mr Taube has also noticed a rise in demand for railings from dog owners worried about their pets getting out and thieves getting in.
“I think I’ve got a knack of matching the gates and fences to the house. The gates at The Bowes Museum are very ornate but wouldn’t look right in Galgate,” he said. “A house looks half finished without them.”
Anyone who’d like to get in touch with Erwin Taube should keep an eye out for him at work in the Galgate area.