Iron Foundries in Scotland

Scotland in the 19th century had an abundance of companies within the iron industry and it was traditional to have a company name and a foundry name.

  • Walter Macfarlane & Co. Ltd. owned the Saracen Foundry
  • The Sun Foundry was owned by George Smith & Co Ltd.
  • Cruikshank & Co. Ltd. were based at the Denny Works, Stirlingshire and specialized in agricultural equipment
  • McDowell & Steven & Co. were based in the Falkirk area of Scotland
  • The Lion Foundry Co. Ltd. was established in Kirkintilloch
  • Several of the smaller iron founding companies amalgamated to form Allied Ironfounders Ltd.

Demand for iron products created competition among the iron foundries, and although they created similar items, each company had distinct elements. Castings included architectural features for public parks such as bandstands, shelters, benches, lamp standards, railings, glasshouses; and urinals with the message “Please adjust your dress before leaving.”

Trademarks and company names were imprinted onto every casting. The Saracen Foundry used a diamond trademark. Variations of the company name appear in historical documents; 1858 Walter McFarlane & Co.; 1863 Walter McFarlane, Esq., Engineer; 1865 Mr. Walter Macfarlane; 1870 Walter Macfarlane & Co.; 1879 Messrs. Walter Macfarlane and Co.’s Saracen Foundry; 1880 Mr. Macfarlane;  1890 Macfarlane’s Castings; 1962 Walter Macfarlane & Company, Limited.

Catalogues of designs and decorative elements which could be incorporated or interchanged as required enabled towns and cities throughout the world to select and purchase items which were then exported. The Saracen Foundry in Possilpark, Glasgow was so extensive that it had a railway siding directly into the Foundry for immediate transportation.

The Saracen catalog advertised the benefits of fountains: “A supply of drinking water to the outdoor population, and also to the lower animals, is now an acknowledged necessity of the changed circumstances of the times and the growing intelligence of the community, encouraging habits of temperance and humanity, and promoting the physical improvement of the people.”

Iron Foundries in England

During the 19th century, Andrew Handyside & Co. manufactured drinking fountains in Derby at the Duke Street Foundry, Britannia Iron Works. An Illustrated book of Designs for Fountains and Vases was published in 1879 and many of his decorative fountains were shipped around the world.

Iron Foundries in France

In 1810 a manufacturing firm opened at Poce in the Pas de Calais specializing in architectural urns and statues. As in Scotland, selections were made from elaborate catalogues and the company attended international exhibitions. The Val d’Osne Foundry created street furniture, drinking fountains, cemetery memorials, statues and entrances to the Metro.

Iron Foundries in U.S.A.

  • J. W. Fiske & Company of New York City was the most prominent American manufacturer of decorative cast iron in the second half of the 19th century. The company manufactured a wide range of garden fountains, statues, urns, and cast-iron garden furniture.
  • J. L. Mott Iron Works of New York City exhibited an elaborate cast iron fountain, 25 feet tall at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.

Iron Foundries in Australia

  • Colin Stewart worked for the famous Sun Foundry in Glasgow. Upon arrival in Australia he purchased the Fulton Foundry in Adelaide, and with partner, Allan Cameron Harley, established the Sun Foundry at Hindley Street, Adelaide in 1867. The cover page of the illustrated catalogue advertised Stewart and Harley as general ironfounders and blacksmiths offering Architectural, Sanitary and General Castings and Wrought Ironwork.
  • In 1903 an iron foundry also operating under the name Sun Foundry was established in Ballarat by Charles Benoir and G. Williams. Products included building and agricultural castings, balustrades and fireplaces.

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