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‘Casting the World’ launch event for town’s year of commemoration for 200 years of JW Singer

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An ambitious new heritage project celebrating one of Frome’s most prominent historical figures, J.W. Singer, will launch at Frome Heritage Museum on what would have been his 200th birthday.

All are welcome to attend the event on Saturday 23rd February, signalling the start of “Casting The World”, a project which will incorporate exhibitions, events and a publication throughout 2019, exploring the life and work of John Webb Singer, who was born in Frome on February 23rd 1819.

 The event will kick off at 2.00pm at Frome Museum, when Rook Lane’s project curator Sue Bucklow will lead visitors on Frome Town Council’s inaugural Singer’s Heritage Trail, a tour of sites around Frome associated with John Webb Singer. This will take in elements of the former J.W.Singer & Sons town centre foundry at Waterloo, which once employed more than 700 people and produced statues that can now be found across the world.  From 3pm, visitors will be able to take a first look at Frome Heritage Museum’s new display of artefacts and memorabilia belonging to J.W. Singer and his family, followed by speeches, refreshments and a birthday cake.

  “Casting the World” is a Heritage Lottery-funded project, led by Rook Lane Arts Trust, along with key partners Frome Heritage Museum. The project is also supported by Frome Society for Local Study, Frome Town Council, Frome Festival, Home in Frome, Black Swan Arts, Frome Learning Partnership and Johnsons Controls. It will explore and celebrate the life and work of John Webb Singer, founder of J.W. Singer & Sons foundry, a pioneering example of Victorian industry from the mid-19th century onwards.  

Founded in 1848, J.W. Singer & Sons started out with a small forge on Eagle Lane, but grew to become one of the town’s major employers and was responsible for producing some of the world’s most iconic public statues, including Boudica on the Thames Embankment in London, Justice that crowns the Old Bailey and the lions at the Rhodes memorial in Capetown, South Africa.

 Curator Sue Bucklow has been researching and studying Singer’s life and work since 2001 and has discovered a number of previously unseen images of the foundry at work in surviving glass negatives, as well as correspondence and family photographs. Sue is excited to be able to share her research in the upcoming exhibition, which will be held this summer at Rook Lane Chapel. 

She said, “The history of John Webb Singer and all that he did for Frome is truly fascinating. Setting up a foundry that employed hundreds of local people, working with the top sculptors of the day, casting statues that were sent all over the world, as well as establishing the Frome Art School are just a few of the stories we’ll be highlighting during this Rook Lane Arts project.”

 “Casting the World” will bring to life these important elements of Frome’s past in a series of exhibitions, events and community activities over the course of 2019. All are welcome to the launch event on Saturday 23rd February, which starts at 2.00pm for the walk and 3.00pm at Frome Museum. The launch on  23rd February will be an opportunity to find out more about  “J.W. Singer, “Casting The World” and how you can get involved in the project.

 If you can’t make the launch but would like to be involved in the project email projects@rooklane arts.org.uk The Singer’s Town Trail can be experienced any time. Pick up a leaflet in Discover Frome or download it from Frome Town Council website.


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