Visit to Lindford Bridgman's in Lichfield

Bridgman's was noted for fine craftsmanship and skill in restoring old and valued buildings throughout the country and Lindford's of Cannock had a similar reputation; so when Charles Bridgeman wished to relinquish his responsibilities in the firm it was fitting that he should approach his old friend, Fred Lindford, and the firm of Lindford - Bridgman was formed.

On Thursday 24th June at the invitation of Geoff Dixon, a former director of the company and a long standing Civic Society member, thirty members of the Society were able to visit Lindford - Bridgman and see the craftsmen at work. It was interesting to watch Michael Painter, the chief carver, working on an intricate screen for Westminster Hall and to chat to the guilder who had to guild all the carving with oil-based or water-based old leaf. I did not know that there were two kinds of guilding but learned that water-based guilding is far more difficult to execute successfully. However a large, impressive, carved 'throne' which we admired turned out to be a commode for a stately home!

Alongside the skillful hand-carving of wood and stone modern high-tech equipment was also in use. A machine which cuts large blocks of stone to any required shape using lasers has replaced the huge water-cooled cutter that was used in earlier days. An air-extraction system and the wearing of masks and eye-shields emphasised the company's attention to health and safety measures.

After an extensive tour of the workshops we were revived with team coffee and biscuits in the "window room" - a part of the new workshop building which received an award in 1990 from the Civic Society. The architect of this "good contemporary building" was David Duffy - who subsequently became our Chairman.

The visit was most enjoyable and I think we all felt proud to have such an interesting and historic firm in the heart of Lichfield. Our thanks go to Geoff Dixon for making this visit possible and to Les Fox for organising everything.

Mary Lister
June 1999