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Specimen of English iron casting, after Berlin castings, early 19th century.
Museum number: MP163
Three specimens of English iron casting (MP163, MP164 and MP165) were presented to Soane in 1835 by Robert William Kennard JP, MP (1800–1870), a London-born merchant and entrepreneur. In 1830 Kennard invested in the Falkirk Iron Company (it is possible they made these specimens) and he led the group that formed the Blaenavon Coal and Iron Company in 1836 (and subsequently bought the Blaenavon Ironworks). Through his connections with the iron and steel industries and access to finance through his family's banking connections, he became a significant investor in the railway boom of the 1830s. He made a fortune as a director of several UK railway companies and was involved in promoting railways in France and Belgium.
Presented to Sir John Soane by Robert Kennard after a visit to Soane's Museum on 16 July 1835. The next day he wrote to Soane (SM Archive) with his 'humble tribute of thanks for so intellectual a treat'. He continues that he would have 'refrained from this intrusion but that he thought it might be pleasing to Sir John to see the specimen of English Iron casting herewith sent. The Berlin founders have produced castings so minute and beautiful that all comparison with them has been thought (with English iron) utterly impossible - the three plates are however English castings using a Berlin cast as the model - run with common iron onto moulds made of River Thames sand they were cast at the works with which Mr. R. Kennard is connected and he begs Sir John will gratify him by accepting them as a memorandum of his thanks for the pleasure Sir John has afforded him'. Soane responded on 2 September apologising for the delay (he has been absent from London) and thanking him for the 'three fine specimens of English Iron castings' adding that he assures him 'that the plates shall be placed in a situation he will approve when he sees them which Sir John trusts he will take an opportunity of doing some Thursday accompanied by any of his Friends to whom it may be agreeable'.
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