Fascinating foundry finds

The Chateau Frontenac
The Chateau Frontenac

A virtual treasure hunt to unearth world-wide examples of a town’s industrial past has struck gold at a famously opulent hotel.

Herald reader Danny McFadden launched his ‘Lion Foundry Challenge’ online last month - urging people to send him pictures and information about examples of the work of Kirkintilloch’s famous iron foundries.

More than 100 people are now involved, with the Lion Foundry’s iconic red telephone boxes providing the majority of examples.

But there have also been a range of other sightings, from humble drain covers to lavish ornamental fountains.

And, most spectacularly, it’s been revealed that a line of canons outside the Chateau Frontenac, in Quebec - said to be the world’s most photographed hotel - also originated on the banks of the Forth and Clyde Canal.

It means that a little bit of Kirkintilloch has made its way into hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers’ photograph albums.

And there’s been plenty more fur-flung ironwork making its way onto Danny’s Facebook and Flickr pages - adding to previous sightings in Antigua, St Kitts and Argentina.

He told the Herald: “Recent international interest has been gobsmacking.

“There’s been a telephone box in Krasnogorsk, Moscow, Russia, one in Edmonton Shopping mall, Alberta, Canada, one by the riverside outside a pub in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA - with a promise of one in Little Rock, Arkansas.”

Closer to home, there’s been a bandstand and drinking fountain in Kilsyth, a fountain in Stirling, a bowling green rink marker in Milton of Campsie, another ubiquitous phone box in Edinburgh’s Royal Mile and a pair of bus shelters in Northampton.

Danny said: “A huge thanks goes to the many people contributing to this.

“In e-mails people have shared brief stories telling how they have either worked in the foundry at some point, are ex-pats - or simply holiday makers.

“All are very proud of their heritage and find the items provide some nice ‘home-from-home’ feelings.

“Many have been quietly clicking their cameras for years and are glad of the chance to share to a wider audience.”

He added: “The challenge isn’t always easy.

“I have a friend who recently visited the Cowal Penisula and stopped at many telephone boxes and drain-covers to discover they were made elsewhere.

“We laughed at this as it can look like quite bizarre behaviour to the unknowing public. However he said he will keep trying.

If you would like to contribute - or would like to see pictures and descriptions of all the finds to date - you can visit the ‘Lion Foundry Challenge’ Facebook or Flickr site.

Contributions and comments can also be emailed directly to Danny on dannymf@ntlworld.com