Glasgow - City of Sculpture
By Gary Nisbet
McDowall Steven & Co.
(fl. 1828-1930)

Glasgow based firm of iron founders, founded by John McDowall, of the Eagle Foundry, Port Dundas, in 1828.

In 1835 the firm is listed in the POD as McDowall & Robertson, Milton Foundry, Port Dundas (with James Kennedy the stationer as their agent at 115 Ingram Street), becoming McDowall & Co., 1844-61, at 3 Corn Street, Port Dundas, and then McDowall Steven & Co., 1862-1909, as the Milton Iron Works, at 142 Woodside Road, after Hugh Stevenson became a partner.

After closing in 1909, the firm was resurrected in 1916, at the Laurieston Iron Works, Falkirk, until 1930.

They manufactured ornamental crestings and pipes for buildings; band stands, seats and railings for the city's parks, and ornamental drinking fountains and lamp standards for its streets and public places, and also exported their castings to towns elsewhere in the UK and the Commonwealth.

In 1888, they supplied garden seats and the drinking fountains for the grounds of the Kelvingrove International Exhibition and exhibited a huge, ornamental cast-iron fountain in the grounds.

The design for this splendid, multi-tiered, figurative fountain was designated pattern number twenty two in the foundry's trade catalogue, and was presented to the city by the foundry in 1890, when it was relocated to Cathedral Square Gardens.

The fountain, together with four of the foundry's smaller canopied drinking fountains (pattern no. 13) which surrounded it, was destroyed around 1959, after years of lying derelict.

Of the two other copies of the fountain known to have been erected elsewhere, the Jubilee Fountain in Biggar, of c. 1887, was demolished in the early 1900s, whilst the fountain gifted to Ayr by Hugh Steven himself, and erected on the esplanade in 1892, was restored in 1980.

McDowall Steven also produced the ornate lampstandards outside Glasgow's City Chambers (c. 1889) and the decorative gratings for the heating and ventilating system in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum (1892-1900).

The most familiar examples of their surviving street furniture are the thousands of red and black Post Boxes erected in streets throughout the UK from the late 1890s.


  • POD , 1831-1900;
  • McDowall Steven Trade Catalogue;
  • A , 5 September, 1890, p. 11;
  • BI , 15 September, 1890, p. 99;
  • Lindsay, p. 73;
  • 1888 Kelvingrove Ehibition Catalogue, p.59;
  • VM C1772, C8666 (photos: Cathedral Square Fountain, c. 1890-93);
  • Heritage Engineering;

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