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J H Porter & Son Ltd. was established at 11 Pembroke Mews, Kensington in 1920 by J Harry Porter in a small workshop which was originally stabling for the Mews properties. At that time the services of a local smithy were in great demand.
The work would be similar to what we produce today; the shoeing of horses being carried out by a farrier rather than a blacksmith. Electricity was limited to our upright pillar drill and the fan to power the forge bellows. Everything else was hand tools, with none of the powered grinders, saws or electric drills we depend on today. Motor vehicles were scarce, so installations were carried by hand cart (seen above) along with the required hand tools.
The Second World War saw a vast change in London's landscape, with a loss of much ironwork, not only from bomb damage, but also from deliberate removal in an attempt to recycle for the War Effort. It is rumoured that it was for morale only, as most of the ironwork was not salvageable, and ended up dumped in the North Sea. Huge gaps remained around Garden Squares and houses for many years, creating an increased demand for traditional replacement gates and railings, which continues to this day.
There was very little change for many years until the business was bought by two long-serving employees in 1986. The original name remained to uphold the tradition of quality.
After serving the local community for 70 years, more space was required. We wished to continue to serve Kensington and the surrounding areas, and were fortunate in finding suitable premises with three times the floor space in Battersea.
J. H. Porter & Son Ltd now operate from the forge at 13 Cranleigh Mews, London SW11, still producing ironwork of a high standard, using traditional methods and tools, hand-in-hand with modem techniques. The hand cart is still with us, but we now prefer to use the four wheeled motor variety!