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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

J.W. Singer

Foundry established by John Webb Singer (1819–1904) of Frome, Somerset. Singer began as a watchmaker and jeweller, setting up Frome Art Metalworks in 1848, specialising in church furnishings, and soon gaining a national reputation. In 1888, with encouragement from three of the leading British sculptors of the day, William Hamo Thornycroft, Edward Onslow Ford and Alfred Drury, Singer extended his premises on the outskirts of Frome to incorporate a statue foundry, providing facilities not only for traditional sand casting, but also the recently re-introduced lost wax process. Unsurprisingly, each of the above sculptors soon provided Singer with valuable commissions, Thornycroft in c.1889 with a copy of his London Statue of General Gordon, for Melbourne, Australia; Onslow Ford with his General Gordon on a Camel, 1889, for Chatham, Kent, and Drury with his Statue of Joseph Priestly, 1899, for Leeds. Such high quality results ensured that the foundry quickly became one of the leading fine art bronze foundries in Britain. In 1899, Singer and Sons was made into a private limited liability company and J.W. Singer passed control to his sons, Walter Herbert and Edgar Ratcliffe Singer. The foundry continued to flourish into the 1920s when increased competition and its own relatively remote location forced it into an amalgamation with the Lambeth-based Morris Art Bronze Foundry, creating the new firm Morris Singer.

Bibliography: S. Beattie, The New Sculpture, New Haven and London, 1983; S. Bucklow, Casting the World. The Story of J.W. Singer & Sons, Frome, Frome, 2019; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, pp. xxxvi, 115, 149, 151, 253, 254, 255, 376; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Liverpool, Liverpool, 1997, pp. 5, 36, 38, 39, 40, 43; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of South London, Liverpool, 2007, pp. xvi, 22, 23, 121, 246, 247; R. Cocke, Public Sculpture of Norfolk and Suffolk, Liverpool, 2013, p. 60; D.A. Cross, Public Sculpture of Lancashire and Cumbria, Liverpool, 2017, pp. 102, 138; 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, p. 46, vol. 2, pp. 8, 48, 51, 56, 437; R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Glasgow, Liverpool, 2002, pp. 100, 229, 231, 233; D. Merritt and F. Greenacre, with K. Eustace, Public Sculpture of Bristol, Liverpool, 2011, pp. 190, 191; E. Morris and E. Roberts, Public Sculpture of Cheshire and Merseyside, Liverpool, 2012, pp. 48, 146; G.T. Noszlopy and F. Waterhouse, Public Sculpture of Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire, Liverpool, 2010, p. 182; NPG British Bronze Sculpture Founders; P. Usherwood et al, Public Sculpture of North-East England, Liverpool, 2000, p. 153; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of the City of London, Liverpool, 2003, p. 63; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster. Volume 1, Liverpool, 2011, pp. 172, 175, 340, 343, 405; D. White and E. Norman, Public Sculpture of Sheffield and South Yorkshire, Liverpool, 2015, p. 142; T. Wyke, Public Sculpture of Greater Manchester, Liverpool, 2004, pp. 22, 127, 220.

Terry Cavanagh November 2022

Singer (J.W.)

John Webb Singer (photo: CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)