A BLACKSMITH says it was the ‘pinnacle’ of his career to finally put back in place the ‘golden gates’ that he has loved since he was little.

The gates at Richmond Wood Norton Retirement Village, Evesham have been replaced by Sculptural blacksmith Steven Cooper, 15 years after they were damaged by a car that drove into them.

Mr Cooper said: “From when I was a little boy I have always looked at them. I have wanted to be a blacksmith since I was 10, and I always wondered if I would get to work on them.”

They are believed to originate from the Palace of Versailles in France. Mr Cooper said: “The craftsmanship is incredible, there is an oval medallion between two angels, apparently it is Joan of Arc with her knee in the devil. The detail is so good you can see the eyes, the nose and the horns.”

“I was humbled to see them go back up. It was just unbelievable.”

The gates originally fell under land used by the last owners of Wood Norton Hotel, before Richmond took on the land.

Mr Cooper, from Pershore drove past on 25 Aug 2003 and noticed one of the gates was hanging off. He enquired at the hotel and was told someone's car had damaged them.

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Mr Cooper began restoring the gates in his workshop but says he did not get paid and delays were caused. He said there was then talk of the gates being sold: “I dug my heels in, as far as I was concerned those gates were going no where. They are such a prominent part of Evesham’s history."

"Then the owners of the care village came along and they were absolutely fantastic. I have always been paid on the dot. My mother became ill in 2016 and I was caring for her, so work took a bit of a back seat but they never put any pressure on me. Last December I began restoring the lamps on the gate poles.”

“I work on my own and I was very fortunate that my bosses who trained me came out of retirement to help me. Without their help I don’t know what I would have done.”