Skip to main content

Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Farmer & Brindley

A firm, based in Westminster Bridge Road, producing architectural and memorial sculpture, and church furniture and ornament, which operated also as a marble merchant. The firm’s directors, William Farmer (1823–1879), and William Brindley (1832–1919), were both from Derbyshire. Initially Farmer went into business independently, employing Brindley as a stone-carver. In the late 1860s they became partners. Their first documented work was on George Gilbert Scott’s parish church at Woolland, Dorset, consecrated in 1856. They were to produce a huge amount of work for Scott, including the decorative sculpture on the Albert Memorial. Other architects with whom they enjoyed fertile collaborations were Lockwood and Mawson, Bodley and Garner, and Alfred Waterhouse. For the latter they produced stone figures and reliefs for Manchester Town Hall, and the models for the copious terracotta decoration on the Natural History Museum in South Kensington. In all, they collaborated with Waterhouse on over 100 buildings. After Farmer’s death, the firm increased its turnover of marble, an activity in which it benefitted from Brindley’s extensive geological knowledge. Foreign sculptors known to have worked for the firm include L.-J. Chavalliaud, Jean Guillemin, and Attilio and Furio Piccirilli. British employees include the distinguished sculptors C.J. Allen and H. Bates. The firm’s sculptural magnum opus, the high-altar reredos for St Paul’s, which it carried out to designs by Bodley and Garner in 1887/88, met with hostile criticism, and was dismantled after bomb damage in 1940, though a number of features from it survived. In the twentieth century, the firm provided marble and fireplaces for R. Knott’s County Hall, and although the business continued after Brindley’s death, Farmer & Brindley was amalgamated with another firm in 1929.

Bibliography: S. Beattie, The New Sculpture, New Haven and London, 1983; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, pp. 129, 138, 140, 141, 222–23, 259–61, 341, 400, 423; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Leicestershire and Rutland, Liverpool, 2000, pp. 4, 152; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Liverpool, Liverpool, 1997, pp. 87, 199; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of South London, Liverpool, 2007, pp. 107–09, 349–51; D.A. Cross, Public Sculpture of Lancashire and Cumbria, Liverpool, 2017, p. 150; M. Hall, ‘The Victorian high-altar reredos in St. Paul’s Cathedral’, Burlington Magazine, no. 1409, vol. 162, August 2020, pp. 646–57; E. Hardy, ‘Farmer and Brindley, Craftsmen and Sculptors, 1850–1930’, The Victorian Society Annual, 1993, pp. 4–17; F. Lloyd et al, Public Sculpture of Outer South and West London, Liverpool, 2011, pp. 160–61, 184–85, 224–25; R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Glasgow, Liverpool, 2002, pp. 149, 151; R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Edinburgh (2 vols), Liverpool, 2018, vol. 2, pp. 216–19; E. Morris and E. Roberts, Public Sculpture of Cheshire and Merseyside, Liverpool, 2012, pp. xvi, 78, 83, 85, 109; G.T. Noszlopy, Public Sculpture of Birmingham (ed. J. Beach), Liverpool, 1998, pp. 112–13; G.T. Noszlopy and F. Waterhouse, Public Sculpture of Staffordshire and the Black Country, Liverpool, 2005, pp. 195–96; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of the City of London, Liverpool, 2003, pp. 152, 154, 201, 206, 207, 208–09, 210, 212–13, 217, 305, 311, 363, 371–72, 436–38; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster. Volume 1, Liverpool, 2011, pp. 129, 332; T. Wyke, Public Sculpture of Greater Manchester, Liverpool, 2004, pp. 25–30, 410, 415.

Philip Ward-Jackson February 2023