A Nairn-based business is creating what will be the focal point of one of the world’s top hotels – continuing the business’ phenomenal international success.
Based at Balmakeith Business Park in Nairn, Black Isle Bronze is creating a striking four-face ‘Smiths of Derby’ clock for the new Waldorf Astoria to be opened in 2014 along the famous Palm in Dubai.
Smiths of Derby have been the UK’s leading clock repairers, restorers and conservation specialists for over 150 years. The clock will be the focal point of the new hotel, which is part of the Hilton brand. Each face is one metre in diameter and took one quarter of a ton of bronze to make.
This comes only a month after a 9ft bronze sculpture of former Newcastle United and England manager Sir Bobby Robson was unveiled by Lady Elsie Robson outside the Newcastle United stadium. Artist Tom Maley worked closely with Sir Bobby’s family on the design of the statue for more than a year and it was cast by Black Isle Bronze foundry in mid-February.
Established by Farquhar Laing in 1994, Black Isle Bronze is the UK’s leading bronze foundry and the largest foundry in Scotland. It uses both lost wax and sand casting techniques, meaning the business can undertake both very large and very detailed commissions that many other foundries would be unable to accept.
Farquhar who hails from the Black Isle, started the business as a one man band, with just £200 for materials, but now employs nine staff and has orders booked for the next year. The business also has a strong track record of employing young talent from local schools.
The business has undertaken a number of extremely high profile commissions over the years across the UK and abroad
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has worked closely with them for the past ten years and has supported its international growth plans.
HIE’s Area Manager, Martin Johnson, commented: “It is difficult to find a better example of a business that has grown from small roots to become an international leader in its field than Black Isle Bronze. From a small team of only nine staff, some of the projects they have successfully undertaken are staggering. From local projects such as the Mercat Cross in Inverness’ Eastgate Centre and Tree of Life at Cawdor Castle; to the Batsman at Lord’s Cricket Ground and Rainbow Division Memorial at Fere en Tardenois in Northern France – the company has developed a reputation for quality and excellence.”
Farquhar Laing, said: “The support we have received from HIE has been crucial not only to increasing our volumes and throughput, but in giving us the space to focus on only using the best quality tools and materials. It is because of this that we can attract and retain some of the best and most skilled people in the country. As a result, we have five particularly highly skilled and talented people working in Nairn all year round. At the moment we are phenomenally busy with new projects and more orders are continually coming in.“
Martin Johnson concluded: “Our staff have built up an incredibly strong relationship with Black Isle Bronze. International trade and investment offers exciting new opportunities to businesses and in partnership with Scottish Development International we have a comprehensive system of programmes and advice available.”
Notes to editor
Black Isle Bronze was established in 1994 and currently has 8 full time technicians. In 2002 the company moved in to a purpose built facility in Nairn, near Inverness.
With over 4000 square feet of work shop space, the company has the equipment and resource to handle the most challenging of projects.
Commissions to date have included castings of sporting figures for Royal Ascot racecourse, Twickenham Rugby Stadium, the new Wembley Stadium and four English Premiership football stadia. Further afield, a copy of the Highland Clearances family at Helmsdale was shipped out to Winnipeg, Canada, while a Black Isle Bronze casting of a thoroughbred mare and her foal stands in the Chokyu racecourse in Tokyo.
Black Isle Bronze was also asked to provide all 66 castings for the Robert Adam Building on Piccadilly, London.
Black Isle Bronze has also recently partnered with the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust to create a limited edition bronze statuette – Peter Pan 2012. The statuette was launched by the Trust’s patron, Joanna Lumley, on May 1 2012.
Only 100 copies will be cast and sold and the proceeds of all sales will go to support the work of the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust – which aims to restore and reopen the house and gardens in Dumfries where J M Barrie was inspired to write his most famous children’s tale.