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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.