We specialise in made to measure curtain hanging solutions in wrought iron, stainless steel, oak and walnut. The business is based on the designs and craftsmanship of founder Daryl Ford. A blacksmith for 30 years, Daryl started making curtain poles in 1993. From 1994 to 2005 he supplied the John Lewis Partnership with bespoke curtain poles. In 1996 Daryl invented the passing ring and bracket system to allow a single pair of curtains to be drawn around a bay window. In 2003 he patented his award winning flexible bend, part of a system which allows you to make up your own bay window pole at home.
Our products are made in Devon using traditional artisan skills. Quality and durability are fundamental to our product range. We don't offer curtain poles with coloured finishes or metallic coating, because these tend to wear with time. Just quality materials with natural finishes. We produce our own designs and focus on classic, simple, elegant products with timeless appeal. We are a small artisan business, but our customers tell us that our products and service are outstanding.
Daryl was born in Devon but after leaving school he took an apprenticeship at a racing yard in Beckhampton, Wiltshire. Later he had roles as head lad and apprentice jockey in racing yards based in Lambourn, Berkshire. While in Lambourn, he started to assist one of the farriers and learnt the basic skills of blacksmithing. He showed such a flair for this work that he gave up his racing career to become a full-time blacksmith.
Daryl set up work in an ancient forge in Eastbury set on the River Lambourn and owned by farriers Roy and Vic Alderton. Here he made and finishished horse shoes for the farriers serving the local racing yards. Racing plates from famous winners shod by the Alderton farriers are displayed on the forge door. Although horse shoes were a regular source of income, Daryl also built up a business of decorative ironwork commissions which developed his blacksmithing skills.
In 1983 Daryl started taking orders for curtain poles and soon began supplying made to measure poles to all the stores of The John Lewis Partnership. Needing more space, Daryl built a workshop in the grounds of his house near the forge. However, the business was still growing and, with the dining room doubling as a packaging room, Daryl & his wife Judy & two daughters decided to move to a smallholding in North Devon with space to accommodate the growing business.
On the smallholding Daryl set up his forge in an old poultry shed. This worked well for several years and allowed room for a power hammer to take the strain of heavy hammering. However, the business soon needed more equipment and Daryl & Judy decided to invest in a purpose built workshop. The picture below shows the old poultry shed workshop at the beginning of its demolition.
With the prospect of supplying volume to John Lewis, a new purpose built forge was erected. Unfortunately, the arrangement with John Lewis for the supply of Daryl's patented flexible bend system did not go as planned and Daryl & Judy had to sell their cottage and move into the end of the workshop. This building now forms an excellent "live work unit" on the outskirts of Kings Nympton, a popular rural North Devon village.
Daryl is committed to making as much as possible in his workshop; keeping alive traditional skills, maintaining control over quality and avoiding the need for large stocks. To achieve this efficiently, Daryl & Judy have invested in a wide range of equipment to improve efficiency and consistency. This meant the purchase of a metalworker, lathes, saws and polishing equipment, as well as welders, grinders and drills. Daryl now has a superbly equiped forge.
Full-time blacksmithing puts a huge strain on the hands and wrists. To take some of the strain out of the hammering process, many blacksmiths, including Daryl, use a pneumatic power hammer. The power hammer can be used gently enough to close a matchbox (without crushing it) and forcefully enough to flatten cold steel. Below Daryl is using the power hammer to draw a point in a bar to make a scroll finial.
Drawing a point using the power hammer
It takes a special skill set to become a good blacksmith and, although you need to master traditional skills, you also need an eye for design. Here Daryl is shown finishing a hand forged scroll on the anvil. Key to producing a fine scroll is drawing the steel into a fine point before starting the scroll. When you compare Daryl's work with some of the crude scrolls and welded on railheads used on cheaper curtain poles you will appreciate the craftsmanship and value offered by our products.
Blacksmithing, engineering and design are not the only skills required to achieve the finished products. Welded joins need careful grinding and forged stainless steel needs extensive hand polishing to restore its shine and finish. Forged stainless finials take on average three times as long to make and creating a matt finish adds an additional process. All black steel items are dipped in a bath of special wax to seal the finish. The result is a unique and very special product.
Shepherd's Crook finials in production