Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Thomas Hadden

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Thomas Hadden was a specialist in the production of high quality wrought iron throughout Scotland, operating from the late 19th Century until as recently as 1975.

Much of the information here comes from the excellent biography produced by Elizabeth F Wright in 1991 (Proc Soc Antiq Scot, 121 (1991), 427-435). The National Museums of Scotland hold a significant archive relating to this company.

Born in 1871 in Hamilton, Thomas Hadden came from an ironworking family. He served an apprenticeship at Howgate, Edinburgh, followed by a spell with James Milne and Sons and work in London. A rise in the traditional metalworking craft in wrought iron, perhaps as a reaction to the prolific cast iron industry saw an increase in demand in this trade. Founding a business with his brother, a woodcarver, in 1901, he developed a long term relationship with Robert Lorimer the Architect, who was particularly interested in revitalizing Scottish vernacular traditions.

The wrought iron screens in the Chapel of the High Kirk of St Giles were completed in 1911 and are one of the finest examples of Haddens work. The casket in the National War Memorial was also executed by Hadden, completed in 1927. Lorimer died in 1929 bringing to an end this working partnership.

By this time Hadden's profile was such that they received commissions for a wide variety of projects from other architects. A significant commission was received from Lord Carmichael for his house at Skirling in Peebleshire, inspired by the wrought ironwork at Traquair House.

Associations and commissions were also developed with Pilkington Jackson, H Jefferson Barnes and Leslie Grahame Thomson. Aside from such prestigious commissions, the bread and butter work included general fabrications, lanterns and domestic wrought iron work. Thomas Hadden died in 1940, and his nephew Robert, who had worked in the business for around fifteen years took over the reins. The company had also relocated to new premises in Roseburn Street, Murrayfield. The company had a specific style to it's work, with botanic and animal forms often seen. Berries, fruits, birds and thistles can be seen in many examples, perhaps influenced by Scottish wrought ironwork at Traquair House, Innerleithen, and Gogar House near Edinburgh. Other examples may be seen at Lympne Castle in Kent, Dunrobin Castle in Sutherland, and in particular the Louise Carnegie Memorial gates and lamps at Pittencrieff Park in Dunfermline. Other unconfirmed examples include work at Elgin Cathedral and a superb grave marker in the Valley Cemetery in Stirling.

After the war, many commissions were received for commemorative features such as gates at the Royal High School in Edinburgh, Glasgow University and George Heriots School in Edinburgh. A gradual decline in the demand for such high quality ironwork unfortunately led to the demise of Hadden's, although they did survive until 1975.

See Also


Sources of Information

[1] Scottish Iron Work