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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Henry Young & Co (active 1871–c.1904)

Henry Young established his art bronze foundry at the Eccleston Iron Works, Eccleston Street, Pimlico, London, in 1871. Young had been until then chief modeller at Holbrook & Co, Manor Street, Chelsea, but on hearing of the sculptor Alfred Stevens’s desperate need for someone to cast the bronze parts of his Wellington Monument for St Paul’s Cathedral, he successfully applied for the job himself. Much of Young’s early success is attributable to his employment of French craftsmen, many of them Communards and fellow travellers taking refuge in London following the fall of the Paris Commune at the end of May 1871. Their skills extended to the casting of bronze statuettes, a growing taste in England, then beyond the capabilities of British foundrymen. It was this expertise that attracted one of Young’s most loyal early clients, Joseph Edgar Boehm, who had been building a reputation as a creator of fine bronze statuettes for whose casting he had hitherto been compelled to travel to Europe; a notable example of Young & Co’s success in this line is Herdsman leading a Bull (V&A). Boehm also used Young & Co for his monumental statues, notably John Bunyan (1874, for Bedford), John Fox Burgoyne (1874, for Waterloo Place), Edward, Prince of Wales (1878, equestrian, for Bombay [Mumbai]), Lord Napier (c.1880, equestrian, for Calcutta [Kolkata]) and Thomas Carlyle (1882, for Chelsea Embankment Gardens). Henry Young & Co’s biggest job was the casting of C.H. Mabey’s two sphinxes flanking the Obelisk of Thutmose III (‘Cleopatra’s Needle’) on the Victoria Embankment, London, 1880–81. The press hailed the sphinxes as evidence of the rapid advances in casting processes in the 14 years since Marochetti had cast Landseer’s lions for the foot of Nelson’s Column: according to the Northern Echo (25 April 1881, p. 4), whereas Marochetti had cast each of the lions in ‘about two dozen different pieces’, which then had to be rivetted together, Young & Co had cast the sphinxes ‘each in a single piece’. What is more, according to the Builder (21 August 1880, p. 250), Young had also introduced graduations (no longer visible) to the colour of the bronze, making the face ‘lighter in tint than the body’.  In the following year (1881) Henry Young commissioned an oil painting from R.L. Lomax (Guildhall Art Gallery, London; acc. no. 1851), showing his foundry’s chasing shop crammed full of a choice selection of its most famous casts. Young & Co’s output of bronze castings dwindled slightly in the 1880s and drastically in the 1890s, for a combination of reasons. Firstly, the probable return home of most or all of Young’s French craftsmen following the French government’s granting of an amnesty for the Communards (partial in 1879, full in 1880); and secondly, the arrival on the scene of two highly competent rival firms, the Thames Ditton Foundry (bronze casting from 1874) and J.W. Singer & Sons (from the late 1880s). Young’s last bronze sculptures date from just after the turn of the twentieth century, shortly before the company’s move to Nine Elms, south London. One of its final casts was Princess Louise’s 1904–05 Colonial Troops South African War Memorial for St Paul’s Cathedral. Today the company operates as H. Young Structures Ltd, specialists in structural steelwork.

Bibliography: Building News, 25 June 1875, pp. 710–12 (‘Bronze Statuettes’); T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, pp. xxxiv–xxxv, xxxvi, 22, 25, 118, 119; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Liverpool, Liverpool, 1997, p. 170; R. Cocke, Public Sculpture of Norfolk and Suffolk, Liverpool, 2013, pp. 48, 110; Graphic, 10 May 1873, p. 434 (text: ‘Casting a statue of the late Lord Derby’), p. 449 (engr: ‘Pouring in the metal’); H. Young Structures Ltd website; Illustrated London News, 16 April 1881, p. 373 (engr: ‘Melting the metal for the bronze sphinx to be placed on the Thames Embankment’), p. 374 (text: ‘Large Bronze Castings’); R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Edinburgh (2 vols), Liverpool, 2018, vol. 1, pp. 38, 116, 365; Mapping Sculpture; G.T. Noszlopy, Public Sculpture of Warwickshire, Coventry & Solihull, Liverpool, 2003, p. 215; NPG British Bronze Sculpture Founders; J. Physick, The Wellington Monument, London, 1970, pp. 95–99; Princess Louise: The career of a royal artist, part 4 (inc. ‘The foundry and production’); Times, 25 December 1882, p. 7 (‘The Beaconsfield Memorial’); P. Usherwood et al, Public Sculpture of North-East England, Liverpool, 2000, p. 181; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of the City of London, Liverpool, 2003, pp. 115, 198, 202, 219, 426; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster. Volume 1, Liverpool, 2011, pp. 192, 194, 200, 202, 316, 320, 398; Westminster and Chelsea News, 13 May 1882, p. 6 (‘Monument casting in Pimlico’).

Terry Cavanagh August 2023