A traditional craft business which uses artisan tools and techniques dating back thousands of years has launched its own online shop.
Nigel Tyas Ironworks, which still fires and works metal following the same principles developed in the Iron Age, has embraced e-commerce and digital marketing to reach more customers and boost trade.
The company, established in 2000 by husband and wife team Nigel Tyas and Elizabeth Stocker, produces hand-made wrought iron products using traditional methods at its forge in Bullhouse Mill, north of Sheffield.
Nigel Tyas’ chandeliers, light fittings, fireside irons and curtain poles can be found in castles, cathedrals, pubs, hotels, heritage properties and family homes across the UK and abroad. The company’s handiwork can even be seen on the sets of Emmerdale, in The Woolpack, and Game of Thrones, in one of the many castles.
Nigel, who has a team of three blacksmiths including one apprentice, said: “The basic process of creating beautiful and functional wrought iron objects hasn’t changed much in thousands of years. We still need to heat the metal in our forge to a white hot temperature between 1,000 to 1,100 degrees centigrade and literally strike while the iron is hot.
“The design of the anvil has never been beaten and, although we have some machines in the forge today, the hand-held hammers, tongs and the jigs we mostly use to shape, mould and finish the steel wouldn’t look amiss in an ironworks of any era.”
Nigel Tyas has established a national reputation for quality and authenticity over the past 15 years and as well as selling direct to property owners, the company has developed relationships with dozens of professional interior designers, architects, conservation and renovation consultants and electrical contractors.
Nigel said: “There are very few people keeping alive traditional ironworking skills in the UK today and we are committed to our tried and tested ways of working and standard of craftsmanship. But we are also a forward-looking business and dedicated to new principles such as fuel efficiency, sustainability and using digital technology to enhance our customer service. Our new e-commerce website is part of our ongoing modernisation.”
Nigel Tyas’ forge is powered by energy efficient propane gas with heat controllers installed to ensure maximum efficiency. All its light fittings and chandeliers are fitted with energy saving LED bulbs as standard, which use 80 per cent less power than traditional incandescent bulbs.
The company uses local suppliers for its raw materials and components wherever possible and uses recycled packaging to post its products to customers all over the UK – and even the USA, where it has recently sent a delivery of chandeliers.
Nigel Tyas has already developed a strong online presence through its website and social media platforms, but its new online shop at www.nigeltyasonline.co.uk enables customers for the first time to view and purchase a selection of its products online 24/7.
Elizabeth, who heads up the customer service side of the business, said: “We pride ourselves on the personal service we give to customers and handle a lot of sales one-to-one, but our online shop obviously extends our offer and is needed to meet growing demand. People can now view, select and pay for products 24 hours a day. And we are still on the end of a telephone line if they need a chat.”
Nigel started his career as 16-year-old apprentice blacksmith with the National Coal Board at Elsecar workshops in the 1970s and worked for large-scale industrial engineering companies in South Yorkshire before setting up his own business.
Now employing seven people, the company has grown its customer base and increased trade steadily over the past 15 years, constantly adding new products to its 500-strong catalogue of goods.
It gained the prestigious Made in Sheffield mark in 2010 which recognises the quality of its manufactured products and further celebrates Nigel Tyas’ close association with Sheffield metalworking heritage.