Flintshire business partners are proud to say ‘here be dragons’

Reporter:

Lois Hough

A DRAGON statue business is proving to be a roaring success.

Poplar’s Forge in Buckley has been hand-crafting the mythical steel creatures for three years and now the venture is really set to soar.

Owner Steven Gillard is to install two of his masterpieces at high-profile sites in the region, at Deeside College and Clwyd Theatr Cymru in Mold.

Mr Gillard, 50, from Ewloe, launched the business after previous steel industry jobs at Motherwell Bridge and Kilpatrick Engineering in Ellesmere Port and at Wrexham chemical firm Monsanto.

He said: “I was fed up with travelling around the country with a young family so the time was right to settle down and go self-employed. I didn’t expect the dragons to take off but they have.

“We have some pretty big projects coming up that we are really excited about.”

Each dragon statue is made by constructing a basic skeleton and building the rest around it.

Using traditional blacksmith’s skills the wings are hand-cut and beaten into a three dimensional shape that gives the statue a realistic appearance.

Dragons are also given horns, teeth, ears, eyes contained within lids, a serpent-like tongue and an armoured skin effect.

“Our best selling dragon is the Welsh dragon,” said Mr Gillard, who is flanked in his workshop at Pinfold Lane Industrial Estate by business partner Stuart Wilson.

“This features all the known characteristics such as dew claws, a looped tail pointing to the sky, a horn on the dragon’s nose tip and swept-back wings.”

Dragons are not the only thing produced by Poplar’s Forge.

Last year it crafted 23 steel bicycles for Cheshire West and Chester Council to promote cycling to work – one of which was painted pink to raise money for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

It was also commissioned to create a sculpture in honour of Liverpool designer Anthony Brown which now sits atop the 1.65 million sq ft Liverpool One shopping centre.

An exhibition of Poplar’s Forge work takes place at Central Station in Wrexham on Tuesday from 6-8pm to celebrate the launch of Wrexham’s Year of Culture.

See full story in the Leader

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