Prepare ye the gates of the Lord

Ready to swing: The powder-coated gates will be installed at the Abbey of St Mark near Camperdown in the the near future. Picture: Caleb Cluff.

Ready to swing: The powder-coated gates will be installed at the Abbey of St Mark near Camperdown in the the near future. Picture: Caleb Cluff.

While the business of Ballarat Wrought Iron has been making gates, fences and other ironware for almost 60 years, it’s a rare request to be approached by a contemplative religious community commissioning a new entrance.

That’s exactly what the Anglican Benedictine Abbey of St Mark requested of the Creswick Road business, which has been making steel goods from the same address since 1966.

Tubular steel: the gates are lighter and requires less pillar support becuase of the use of lighter tube steel. Picture: supplied.

Tubular steel: the gates are lighter and requires less pillar support becuase of the use of lighter tube steel. Picture: supplied.

Simone Judge of Ballarat Wrought Iron says she was approached by Sister Raphael Stone and monk Dom Placid Lawson to recreate gates they had seen featuring a distinctive design: a trefoil cross, or botonnee, enclosed by a circle.

Resemblance: The medal of St Benedict resembles the crosses shaped into the gates. Picture: Abbey of St Mark.

Resemblance: The medal of St Benedict resembles the crosses shaped into the gates. Picture: Abbey of St Mark.

“They came all the way from Camperdown and called in to see us. They were such lovely people,” says Ms Judge.

“Then they emailed me through a photo of something they had seen, with crosses and vines, but they didn’t want it too over the top, or ornate – because the one in the photo was… well it wasn’t restrained. But the crosses were obviously very important.”

Vine tendrils: the original from which the gate's dfesign was taken is much more ornate. Picture: supplied.

Vine tendrils: the original from which the gate's dfesign was taken is much more ornate. Picture: supplied.

The gates are 3.5 metres wide overall and over 2 metres at their highest point, and have delicate vine-like tendrils running through the bars.

They are made of tubular steel rather than solid metal, in order to reduce their weight. The circular crosses were cut by laser at Kermeen and Co.

The Abbey of St Mark was established in Fitzroy in 1975.

It later moved to Camperdown to improve the quality of contemplation and quietude pursued by the monks and nuns who reside there.

Overlooking Lake Bullen Merri, it is open to members of the public seeking to retreat to place of tranquillity.

Handmade: Frank Mroczkowski's originla hand made sign. Picture: Caleb Cluff.

Handmade: Frank Mroczkowski's originla hand made sign. Picture: Caleb Cluff.

Ballarat Wrought Iron was established in 1957 by Frank Mroczkowski, a Polish immigrant. Elvin Judge remembers he had a small shed next to a fish and chip shop opposite the then-new Civic Hall in Mair Street.

“It’s hard to remember where he was exactly, it was so tiny.”

Mr Mroczkowski’s home behind the business he established is still standing.

Former building: Mr Mroczkowski outside the former building on the current site of Ballarat Wrought Iron. Picture: supplied.

Former building: Mr Mroczkowski outside the former building on the current site of Ballarat Wrought Iron. Picture: supplied.