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Impressive turnout for 200th birthday of John Webb Singer to launch project celebrating his life and work

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Rook Lane Arts Trust were delighted when more than 100 people joined in their bicentenary celebration of John Webb Singer, one of Frome’s most prominent historical figures.

The launch of “Casting the World: The Story of JW Singer & Sons, Frome”, the National Lottery Heritage -funded project from Rook Lane Arts Trust, launched at Frome Museum on Saturday 23rd February. The project 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.

Visitors gathered to see the museum’s new display and hear from former Singer’s employee Steve Francis, who was instrumental in rescuing glass plate negatives from being destroyed 20 years ago. These are now held at Frome Museum, with some being restored as part of “Casting The World”.  Also in attendance were representatives from Rook Lane Arts Trust and Frome Museum Trust, as well as National Lottery Heritage Fund and Frome Town Council, both of whom are supporting the project. The launch event included speeches from the chair of Rook Lane Arts Trust, Martin Bax, National Lottery Heritage Fund representative Sarah Staniforth, former Singer’s employee Steve Francis and project curator Sue Bucklow.

As well as the launch event, which included a Victorian high tea and a 200th birthday cake for J.W. Singer, more than 70 people took part in the new Singer’s Town Trail, a walking route commissioned by Frome Town Council.   The walks were lead by photographic curator Sue Bucklow, who has been researching JW Singer since 2000, and took 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. 

Also on display for the first time was a new exhibit at Frome Museum, which introduces JW Singer, through a series of artefacts.

Rook Lane Arts Trust chair, Martin Bax MBE, was delighted to see such an impressive turnout at the launch of the Trust’s latest project. He said, “John Webb Singer was made and shaped by Frome, and we are proud to be commemorating his legacy through our latest National Lottery Heritage Funded Project.”

“Casting The World: The Story of J.W. Singer & Sons, Frome” will now continue over the rest of 2019, with further events and activities coming up.  Project organisers are looking for anyone who worked at or had relatives that worked at the Singer & Sons Foundry, as well as anyone who might like to volunteer on the project. Please get in touch with them by email on: projects@rooklanearts .org.uk

The exhibition Casting The World: The Story of J.W. Singer & Sons, Frome will take place at Rook Lane Chapel 29th June – 28th July. Check rooklanearts.org.uk for more information or follow @RLAT Frome on social media.

The Museum’s display can be seen until mid-November, and Frome Town Council’s Singer’s Trail leaflet can be picked up from Discover Frome or downloaded from the council’s website. 


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