In 1998, Past Prime Warden Lt. Colonel Delwyn Dennis, presented the Tonypandy Cup to the Company. It was given in memory of Lord Tonypandy (George Thomas, Speaker of the House of Commons) who was an Honorary Member of the Court of the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths. The Cup may be awarded annually for a piece which is considered to be an outstanding example of the skill of a blacksmith or blacksmiths. A special Committee is established every year to assess the nominated works.
At the recent Ladyday Court meeting, the Company’s Court of Assistants approved the recommendation to award the Tonypandy Cup for 2016 to professional Blacksmith Peat Oberon FWCB. Peat Oberon is an artist blacksmith based at a forge in the grounds of Preston Hall Museum near Stockton-on-Tees in the North-East of England. In his former career as a schoolteacher he taught various crafts subjects for 15 years before becoming a full-time blacksmith in 1980. Since then he has earned his living and an esteemed reputation producing a wealth of architectural, sculptural and decorative ironwork. Peat began teaching the craft of blacksmithing in 1990, combining his skills as an artist, craftsman and teacher with his life-long passion for working with metal. In 2008, Peat was awarded the Silver Medal and Fellowship of the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths, in recognition of consistently high standards of work. He was called upon to be a judge at the World Forging Championships in Stia, Tuscany, in September 2009.
The gates are situated in a private garden. The owners are considering opening the garden for the National Gardens Open Days, but to date have not yet made a decision. Company members are able to visit to view the gates by special arrangement; an appointment should be made through Peat Oberon.
These gates are very well executed and are a beautifully crafted piece of work. There are several very challenging elements within them, with multiple fire-welds and a wide range of scroll types. Made almost entirely using ambitious traditional decorative motifs and techniques, the gates are consistent with their surroundings and complement the period and style of architecture. There were many traditional techniques evident in the making of the gates, all carried out with confidence and expertise. They are made from pure and mild steel which has been forged in a traditional and very individual way. From the top to the bottom of the gate it shows exactly how it was forged. We liked that the gates were ‘honest’ and that Peat had not covered up the obvious signs of workmanship, the marks and textures which, to the trained eye, tell the story of their making. The individual elements were exactly that, individual, and it was good to see that they were truly handmade and had a life and character of their own. The work is well executed with good examples of water leaves, forged balls, collaring and branch scroll work. It is very honest and skilful work, made by a confident maker who knows how to handle the material. The design of the gates were adapted from an original period drawing. There are few opportunities to celebrate excellence in traditional ironwork and Peat, nearing the end of his career, is a real ambassador for the craft.