William Watson is a self-taught metal worker who runs his own business, Drumcaw Steel Works, in County Down. William creates decorative gates and railings, and takes specialist commissions. It is for his work on the Charles Sheils Almshouses in Killough that he has been nominated for a Heritage Angel Award.
Some of the Grade B1 listed almshouses had fallen into disrepair and the Charles Sheils Charity made the decision to undertake phased restoration works. Amongst larger repairs and alterations, these restoration works included the preservation of iron door furniture and the restoration of the surviving pieces of the gravity-fed water system designed by Young and Mackenzie.
William Watson was engaged to undertake the restoration of these important pieces, commencing with the repair and restoration of the fragmented original door handle and knocker plate of the Superintendent’s residence, returning it to full working order. William then went on to replace a lost door strap with an identical replacement which involved using many different skills from welding and shaping to fabrication and blacksmithing. William also restored the severely perished Adamsez water tank from the original gravity-fed water system, thereby allowing the charity to preserve part of its industrial heritage. Without this intervention, the tank would have been lost completely in only a few years.
Whilst the scale of William’s work is small, the impact that these restored pieces have had on the project has been extremely significant, allowing the buildings to regain fully their Victorian gothic splendour. It is his attention to detail, artistic eye and passion for his craft that has made the restoration of these items such a success.