Singers of Frome
Other names: Frome Art Metal Works (1848), Singers of Frome, J.W. Singer and Sons Ltd. (c.1900), Messrs. Singers (c.1916), Singer & Co (early 1920s),
Foundation date: 1848
Active: 1848 -
Function: Art metalworks, bronze founders (cire perdue), bronze foundry
History or description: The company was founded by the silversmith, John Webb Singer, as the Frome Art Metal Works, Somerset. Singer started the company to meet the demand for ecclesiastical metalwork. In 1888 an art bronze foundry was added to the range of services offered by the firm.
John Webb Singer's sons, Walter Herbert (born c.1853) and Edgar Ratcliffe (born c.1858) became, respectively, a manager and designer for the company c.1881-91. They took over running the firm in 1899 when Singers became a private limited liability company. Walter Herbert was the managing director and Edgar Ratcliffe was one of three other directors.
Under Walter's direction Singers acquired their major rival, Spital and Clark of Birmingham for £12,500 in 1914. Ernest and Clifford Spital joined the Board as Managing Director and Works Director respectively. Between 1914-18 the firm was requisitioned by the Government to make munitions and women were employed for the first time.
In 1927, William Morris & Co (Westminster) Ltd acquired the art bronze foundry run by Singers. The London firm was then renamed Morris Singer Co whilst the Singers business continued at Frome minus its work casting sculptures.
A history of the foundry entitled 'A Century of Statues: the History of the Morris Singer Foundry' was published by Duncan S. James in 1984. There is also information about the company on the Frome Museum website (http://www.fromemuseum.org/singer1.htm) and in the directory of 'British bronze sculpture founders and plaster figure makers, 1800-1980' (see below).
Employees, Students & Members
Period Start: 1871
Period Start: 1881
Dates are usually the year a work was exhibited so may differ from date of production.
New entries have been made each time a work was exhibited due to a lack of evidence about the state, medium or edition shown.
Cast Lead Figures for a Garden
Institutional and Business Connections
Bought out Spital and Clark
After the acquisition, Ernest and Clifford Spital joined the Singers of Frome Board as Managing Director and Works Director respectively. (See http://www.fromemuseum.org/singer1.htm)
Forerunner of Morris Singer Co.
In 1927 William Morris & Co (Westminster) Ltd acquired bronze foundry business run by Singers of Frome (also known as Singer & Co). The London-based firm was then renamed the Morris Singer Co.
Employees included Leonard Edwin Grist
This connection is a conjecture based on his place of residence (close to Frome) at this date
Trade name of Edgar Ratcliffe Singer
J.W. Singer and Sons Ltd. (c.1900) and Messrs. Singers (c.1916)
Trade name of John Webb Singer
Frome Art Metal Works (1848) and J.W. Singer and Sons Ltd. (c.1900)
Trade name of Walter Herbert Singer
1891 (Circa) - 1922
Descriptions of Business or Institution
Listed under Art Metal Workers Post Office London Directory, 1900 Post Office/Kelly London Directories
British bronze sculpture founders and plaster figure makers, 1800-1980
http://www.npg.org.uk/research/programmes/british-bronze-founders-and-plaster-figure-makers-1800-1980-1/british-bronze-founders-and-plaster-figure-makers-1800-1980-m.php (accessed 1 March 2011)
Census Returns of England and Wales, 1851
HO107 piece 1932 folio 366 page 35
Census Returns of England and Wales, 1861
RG09 piece 1654 folio 44 page 34
Census Returns of England and Wales, 1871
RG10 piece 2431 folio 75 page 20
Census Returns of England and Wales, 1881
RG11 piece 2401 folio 132 page 6
Census Returns of England and Wales, 1901
RG13 piece 2308 folio 106 page 20
Scottish National War Memorial
Citing this record
'Singers of Frome', Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951, University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, online database 2011 [http://sculpture.gla.ac.uk/view/organization.php?id=msib6_1222448475, accessed 18 Apr 2015]