Records of Walter MacFarlane & Co Ltd, architectural iron founders, Possilpark, Glasgow, Scotland

Scope and Content

  • Newspaper articles and extracts from books and pamphlets, 1862-1965;
  • Catalogues and price lists, 1882-1913.

Administrative / Biographical History

Walter MacFarlane (1817-1885) was born in Torrance of Campsie, East Dunbartonshire, Scotland, and worked for a jeweller in the Trongate, Glasgow, Scotland, before starting an apprenticeship to James Buchanan, blacksmith, Stockwell Street, Glasgow. He subsequently worked for 10 years as a foreman of the Cumberland foundry of Moses, McCulloch & Co, Gallowgate, Glasgow. In  1850,  he established the firm of  Walter MacFarlane & Co with Thomas Russell, his brother-in-law, and later an MP, and James Marshall, a businessman.

Initially the firm operated in premises at Saracen Lane, Gallowgate, manufacturing plumbing castings, but soon production moved into ornamental and sanitary cast iron work. In 1861 the firm employed a workforce of 120, increasing to 1,200 in the 1890s. In 1862, they moved into new premises in Washington Street, Glasgow and then in  1872  they moved to a new 7 acre site at the Saracen Foundry in Possilpark, Glasgow . Walter MacFarlane's nephew, who was also called Walter MacFarlane (1853-1932), joined the firm in 1872 and entered the partnership in  1880 . At some point after 1880, the company was incorporated as a limited liability company as  Walter MacFarlane & Co Ltd with the MacFarlane family maintaining an interest in the company through to its eventual demise.

The business had major successes at the Glasgow Exhibition of 1901 and held a worldwide reputation for its design work. In 1911, King George V was crowned emperor of India in Delhi in a prefabricated cast iron hall made by Walter MacFarlane.

In 1965, Walter MacFarlane (1883-1965), son of the second Walter MacFarlane, died. He had been chairman of the company and a director of its parent company, Federated Foundries Ltd . MacFarlane's was taken over by Allied Founders in 1965, which was itself absorbed by Glynwed Ltd, and the Possilpark works were eventually demolished in 1967.


This material is arranged into three series as described in the scope and content element

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Pemanent Loan : 2 March 1990

Other Finding Aids

Digital file level list available in searchroom

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

None which affect the use of this material

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the University Archivist

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use & condition of documents

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 0248 procedures

Custodial History



None expected

Related Material

Glasgow University Library holds a number of MacFarlane catalogues, c1865 & 1935: LRA Q1495 and Sp Coll RF 274 respectively.

National Library of Scotland holds various MacFarlane catalogues, 1875-1935, a basic search of their catalogue can be done  here.

Location of Originals

This material is mainly original, although there are some photocopies from various published works


No known publications using this material

Additional Information

Fonds level description compiled by Jenny Bunn, Assistant Archivist, 11 February 2000. Revised by David Powell, Hub Project Archivist, 4 December 2002. Lower level descriptions complied by Alma Topen, Senior Assistant Archivist (Cataloguing), 22 May 2014.

Geographical Names