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Scottish ironwork revealed

5 October 2009

The work of a World Famous Scottish Firm is being revealed today (Monday) with a new book charting the progress of the Walter MacFarlane and Co. Saracen Foundry iron foundry in Glasgow.

Launching the reprint of the 19th Century foundry’s incredible designs at Glasgow’s Trades Hall, Culture Minister Michael Russell said: “At its peak around 1895 this firm and some others like it gave Scotland the reputation as the leading architectural ironfounders of the world - ironwork made in Scotland was exported across the globe - from fountains to entire railway stations. Whilst many know of our engineering prowess, few are aware of the importance of this industry''.

“The book I am launching today is a reprint of an original Saracen catalogue which will act as a reference guide to those conserving and replacing historic iron structures. Historic Scotland have established a reputation of being specialists in the conservation of such ironwork and are asked for advice from around the world in this field.''

Walter MacFarlane and Co. was one of the world’s largest and leading firms of its kind between 1850 and 1967. Its international work includes the elaborate gates at Canada’s Halifax Public Gardens in Nova Scotia, Ironwork for Mysore Palace in India and a range of work at the Manaus Cemetery in Brazil. Local children from the Saracen Primary in Possilpark have been helping to launch the book and learn about their local heritage, including a visit to one of the last remaining foundries in Scotland.

The Minister added: “Saracen were technological innovators of their time and led the way in providing pattern books such as this across the world - it became an aspiration of many communities to have a structure or decorative feature made at the world famous works in Possilpark.”

Notes for editors

  • Images of the Minister and newly appointed Historic Scotland Chief Executive Ruth Parsons will be sent out following the event.

  • Line illustrations from the report can be obtained from Lesley Brown on the number or email below.

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament. For more information visit

  • Historic Scotland is delighted to be supporting the 2009 Year of Homecoming with a series of initiatives including family trails, spectacular events and the creation of a Homecoming Pass for heritage attractions in association with other heritage organisations.

For further information

Lesley Brown
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8603 or 07788 923873