Somerset

Exhibition commemorates iconic work of Frome foundry

Inside the Singer factory Image copyright Frome Museum
Image caption The statue of Boudicca was made for the Thames Embankment in London

An exhibition is to commemorate the work of a Victorian metal foundry that produced dozens of iconic statues.

The JW Singer & Sons art metal works in Frome, Somerset, produced monuments including Lady Justice on top of the Old Bailey and Boudicca on the Thames Embankment in London.

Victorian glass plate negatives, depicting the bronzes being made, were rescued from a skip in the 1970s.

The display will mark the bicentenary of John Webb Singer's birth.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The statue was installed in 1902, 17 years after the death of its creator Thomas Thornycroft
Image copyright Frome Museum
Image caption The 20ft (6m) high statue of King Alfred can now be seen in Winchester

The negatives were nearly lost but for the quick thinking of foundry employee Steve Francis, who stopped boxes of them from being thrown away more than 40 years ago.

He arranged their donation to Frome Museum and more than 3,000 glass plate negatives and photographs survive.

This is the first time the pictures have been put on public display.

Mr Francis said he was glad his efforts in saving the pictures had "come to fruition".

Image copyright Frome Museum
Image caption Five friezes were produced for the Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle

"I've always thought the people of Frome didn't know enough about John Webb Singer," he said.

"It's amazing what he achieved in his lifetime. His statues are all over the world."

Monuments made in Frome also include the statue of King Alfred in Winchester, Oliver Cromwell outside the House of Commons, the Welsh dragon on Cardiff City Hall and the friezes at the Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle.

Image copyright Frome Museum
Image caption This picture of a Welsh dragon, made for Cardiff City Hall, was among thousands saved from a skip

The foundry used the highly-skilled processes of sand- and lost wax casting.

At its height it employed 700 people and cast statues and sculptures that found across the UK and around the world.

The month-long Casting the World exhibition at Rook Lane Chapel in Frome will begin on 29 June.

Image copyright Frome Museum
Image copyright Frome Museum

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