McDowall, Steven & Co.

Ironfounders

The Glasgow ironfounders, McDowall, Steven & Co. comprised John McDowall, and his three nephews, Hugh, James and Thomas Steven. The firm originated around 1834 as McDowall & Robertson, becoming McDowall & Co. in 1843. 1 The name changed to McDowall, Steven & Co. in August 1861 after the Steven brothers became partner, Thomas around 1850 and Hugh and James in 1861. McDowall died suddenly in 1866, which led to a legal dispute in which Thomas posthumously (and unsuccessfully) accused his uncle of fraud. 2 By the time of his own death in 1895, Thomas had become 'principal partner'. 3 The firm's Milton Foundry was located at Woodside Road, Glasgow from 1862 to 1909. They recommenced work in Falkirk in 1916. 4

The company produced monumental, three-tiered civic fountains, themed on marine and river creatures for Ayr (1892) and for Glasgow's 1888 International Exhibition. 5 They cast elaborate bandstands, including those for Aberdeen (1893) and Wolverhampton. 6 Other projects included the facade of Glasgow's Central Station bridge (the 'Highlandman's Umbrella'), Argyle Street (1906); and heating-grates for Kelvingrove Art Galleries. 7 By the 1900s, they were mass-producing the iconic red pillar post boxes seen all over the UK.

Notes:

1: Glasgow Post Office Directory , 1835–6; Glasgow Herald, 10 April 1866, p. 2; 13 April 1866, p. 6.

2: Glasgow Herald, 10 April 1866, p. 2; 11 April 1866, p. 5; 13 April 1866, p. 6.

3: Aberdeen Weekly Journal, 30 November 1895, p. 3.

4: Gary Nisbet, McDowall Steven & Co. (fl. 1828–1930), Short Biography, 2001–12, Glasgow City of Sculpture website, www.glasgowsculpture.com [accessed 10 June 2012].

5: Rob Close, Ayrshire and Arran: An Illustrated Architectural Guide, Edinburgh: R.I.A.S., 1992, p. 23; Glasgow Herald, 17 December 1888, p. 9; 7 February 1888, p. 4; 28 August 1890, p. 9.

6: Andrew Laing and David Mitchell, Historical Information: McDowall, Steven & Co. Ltd, Scottish Ironwork website, undated, www.scottishironwork.org [accessed 10 July 2012]; Aberdeen Weekly Journal, 9 August 1893, p. 4.

7: Elizabeth Williamson, Anne Riches, Malcolm Higgs, The Buildings of Scotland: Glasgow, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1990, p. 210; Glasgow Herald, 20 September 1900, p. 5.