Sunday, August 16, 2015

Ulster 5 bar gates - recovering the vernacular for the 21st century

After a long long wait we now have our restored gates and rustic pillars installed and a layer of stone over the yard. The gates are about 100 years old and have been repaired, primed and painted in Massey Ferguson red. It has taken us a long while to find the right materials, and men with traditional skills who understood what we were trying to achieve, to make this all happen – and to keep within present-day planning and building control regulations. Field entrances are now wider than the old original gates to let heavy machinery in and out – but they are still an ideal width for a regular family car.
It is possible to do a newbuild in a way that honours tradition. There is an Ulster vernacular and I hope other people will also adopt it, in ways which are relevant for modern life, and not limit it to open-air museums – these are places which I greatly enjoy visiting but which can be in their own way a little bit commodified. Ulster vernacular should live and grow in our landscapes.
With many thanks to my friend the architect Doug Elliott who steered us through the early years and brought to bear his own life-long awareness of an Ulster aesthetic. Click the images to enlarge.

(PS - the norm was 5 bars, but as you'll see from the photographs, additional bars would often be added to stop lambs escaping)






And all heavily influenced by  places like this - the Scotch-Irish Farm and Ulster Forge at the Museum of American Frontier Culture, Virginia, which we visited on honeymoon in 1997. (Interestingly it seems to now be just named the 'Irish Farm').