Glasgow - City of Sculpture
By Gary Nisbet
Lion Foundry & Co Ltd
(fl. 1880-1984)

Established in Kikintilloch by three former employees of Walter Macfarlane's Saracen Foundry in Glasgow, Robert Hudson, an orders clerk, James Jackson, a salesman, and Robert Brown, a fitter, they took on another defector from Macfarlane, named Cuthbert, and initially traded under the name Jackson, Brown, Hudson & Cuthbert. They adopted the firm's more familiar name, the Lion Foundry, in 1885. It became a Limited Company in 1892, and used a heraldic Lion Rampant on a shield as its marque.

From 1881, the foundry's chief designer and draughtsman was James Cassells, who had also worked for Macfarlane, and it is to him that many of the patterns for the commemorative fountains and architectural castings produced by both foundries can be attributed.

A particularly fine example of the Lion Foundry's commemorative drinking fountains is the Hudson Fountain in Peel Park, Kirkintilloch, of 1905, which was designated: Drinking Fountain. No. 41., in the foundry's catalogue.

This features a standing female figure carrying a ewer on her head, on a square pedestal with four projecting basins and lion head water spouts on its sides. Fitted with four self- closing taps and gun metal cups, it stands on a cast iron kerb with a surrounding grate for drainage, and has two, stool-like, steps for children to reach the taps. The fountain was 12ft 8ins high, and was restored by Heritage Engineering in 2003.

Cassells was later succeeded by James Leitch, who was responsible for introducing elements of the popular Glasgow Style and Art Nouveau into the foundry's patterns, particularly for their bandstands.

Concentrating on the home trade (Macfarlane having already cornered the international market)' the Lion Foundry's castings apeared in every city in the UK, with a number of commissions coming from important London architects, such as the renowned theatre designer, Frank Matcham, for whose London Hippodrome (1900) and Finsbury Park Empire (1910. Dem. 1965) they produced porte cocheres that were typical of the foundry's output.

Their other London projects included Mappin House, Oxford Street (1908); Waterloo Station (1922); work for Sir John James Burnet 's Adelaide House (1924-35) and Unilever House (1930-1); Africa House, Kingsway (1928); Sir Reginald Blomfield's Lambeth Bridge (1932); and Hemle & Corbett's Bush House, the home of the BBC 's Overseas Service (1925-35).

In Glasgow, their work includes the decorative panels for three Art Deco buildings in Wilson Street: the former Progressive Co-op Society Building, for Keppie & Henderson (1928); Wm D Todd & Sons, by Thomson & Sandilands (1928); and Black & Co, for James Taylor Thomson 1932).

Elsewhere in Scotland they produced castings for the War Memorial Gates, Kikintilloch (1924); Lothian House, Edinburgh, for which they executed relief panels representing Building and Winter from models by Pilkington Jackson (1932-6); and bandstands for parks in Kirkintilloch (1905); Paisley (1926); and Shotts.

Examples of their casting south of the border include: a drinking fountain in Peterborough; County Arcade, Leeds (1899-1900); the Levi Memorial Clock Tower, Coventry (1934); a bandstand for J A Bugler Ltd, Ahford (1901); and other bandstands in parks in Windsor (1901); Southport (1912); Wallsend- On-Tyne (1924); Port Talbot (1925); Irlam, Lancashire (1926); and Blackburn (1930). Their international work includes the Plaza Constitucion Station, Buenos Aires (Great Southern Railway) (1930-4).

After World War II (during which many of the foundry's fountains, bandstands and railings were uprooted and destroyed 'for the war effort'), changing tastes and styles in architectural and urban design reduced the demand for the firm's products, together with those of all the other major foundries, and led to a period of demolition, neglect and vandalism of their surviving structures.

In the 1950s, the foundry concentrated on producing engineering castings and its lucrative contracts with the General Post Office (GPO) to produce its universally known (and collected) post boxes and telephone boxes. After the GPO was broken-up in the 1980s, they continued to produce phone and letter boxes for British Telecom, but closed in 1984, a victim of the the recession and the collapse of British Industry during the Thatcher era.

Many of the foundry's patterns have been revived and and surviving fountains and bandstands restored by the Carmyle based Heritage Engineering, which holds a splendid collection of the Lion and other foundry's illustrated pattern books in its archives. Other material on the foundry is held in the East Dunbartonshire Archives in the William Patrick Library, Kirkintilloch.

The team at glasgowsculpture.com is grateful to Jim Fleming and Heritage Engineering for allowing us access to their archives.

Sources:

  • East Dunbartonshire Archives: GD1-10;
  • Information from Heritage Engineering;
  • Lion Foundry Pattern Book (ills.);
  • Williamson et al. ;

Click here to return to the top.

All images and biographies are our copyright and may not be reproduced
in any form whatsoever without our express permission.

Home Page |  Sculpture Database |  Sculptors & Designers |  Architects, Builders & Foundries |  Quick Tour
Acronyms |  Glossary |  Bibliography |  Useful Links |  About Us |  Privacy Policy |  Copyright |  Contact Us
Our visitor count: from 1st Jan 2002
For sculpture and architecture: we have over 300 biographies of sculptors and architects connected with Glasgow, Scotland.

 
© 2001-2017 glasgowsculpture.com