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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Morris Art Bronze Foundry (active 1921–1927)

Bronze foundry formerly based in Dorset Road, Lambeth. It was established in 1921 with financial backing from the William Morris Company (Westminster) Ltd, whose speciality was ornamental metal work and stained glass (as Duncan James has pointed out, this was not the William Morris, though Morris undoubtedly took no great pains to disabuse potential clients from such a favourable misapprehension). The first manager, responsible for setting up the foundry, was Leonard Grist, who had served his apprenticeship and risen to the level of foreman at J.W. Singer’s foundry. Given the specialised nature of the skills required by an art foundry, Grist had no alternative but to poach his craftsmen from his old employer and also from Singer’s chief rival, A.B. Burton, of Thames Ditton. The Morris Art Bronze Foundry soon acquired a reputation for skilful handling of both sand casting and lost wax and won many of the most prestigious public commissions, including the memorial to William Lister, 1922, by Sir Thomas Brock, London; the statue of Lord Ronaldshay, c.1924, by John Tweed, Bombay, India; the memorial to the Bishop of Coventry, 1925, by William Hamo Thornycroft, Coventry Cathedral; and numerous war memorials, including ChathamPlymouth and Portsmouth, all 1923–24, by Henry Poole; Ilford, 1924, by Charles Wheeler; and the Machine Gun Corps, 1925, by Francis Derwent Wood and The Guards Division, 1923–26 by Gilbert Ledward, both London. Ledward’s Awakening, Ropers Gardens, Chelsea Embankment, had been one of the foundry’s earliest casts, c.1922. Grist left in 1925 to set up the Corinthian Bronze Foundry. In 1927, J. W. Singer, unable to compete from its remote location in Frome, sold off the art foundry part of its business to William Morris & Co and the amalgamated foundry continued as the Morris Singer Company.

Bibliography: T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, pp. 33, 34; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of South London, Liverpool, 2007, pp. xvi, xvii, 226, 227; D.S. James, A Century of Statues. The history of the Morris Singer Foundry, Basingstoke, Hants, 1984; R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Edinburgh (2 vols), Liverpool, 2018, vol. 1, pp. 230, 232, 235n20; NPG British Bronze Sculpture Founders; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster. Volume 1, Liverpool, 2011, pp. 74, 231; T. Wyke, Public Sculpture of Greater Manchester, Liverpool, 2004, p. 367.

Terry Cavanagh November 2022