Stornoway, Western Isles

The Scottish Ironwork Foundation is a registered charity which promotes historic architectural ironwork made or found in Scotland.

Scotland has lost a great deal of its industrial heritage - entire industries have been wiped away without any physical trace. 

With the establishment of Carron in 1759, the light castings industry boomed and developed into the mid-19th Century to a point where Scotland was a global player inthe sector, its goods highly prized and names like the Saracen Foundry of Walter Macfarlane and Co, Mcdowall Steven’s Milton Ironworks, the Sun Foundry of George Smith and Co, David King and Sons, Mackenzie Moncur and the Lion Foundry of Kirkintilloch, became global brands. The collapse of the industry after WW2 led to these former glories being forgotten, buildings demolished, patterns destroyed, thousands of hours in design and drawing lost or even worse burned.

A slim thread of knowledge persisted amongst a few enthusiasts and this grew in the 1990’s as urban renewal projects and parks started to have their features restored or even replaced. The survival of company archival information is incredibly poor - for some firms all we have left are structures themselves, or if we are very lucky a trade catalogue. The market was global and some firms seemed to have delivered little work at home. What is most exciting is that when we think we have found everything whether it be archival or structures, out of the blue will come an email from Brasil or South Africa saying ‘we have found a small diamond mark on the ironwork that looks like it says ‘Glasgow’ - then we are off on another adventure...

The scale and reach of Scotland's influence in the manufacture and export of architectural ironwork is only starting to be fully understood. Hundreds of firms exported everything from railings to fountains, lampposts to railway stations, gutters to cast iron palaces.

On this site you can find out about these firms and search our unique database which tracks Scottish ironwork in Scotland and across the world.

Walter Macfarlane jnr in the yard of the Saracen Foundry, Glasgow with a lamp for Southwark, London

(Image courtesy of Gordon Urquhart)