Kings Gardens, Southport
The initial installation of two shelters form part of the original plans for the sea-front area, whilst the second phase of installations, of which seven shelters remain, are a legacy of the desire to integrate the sea-front area of the town with Lord Street, the main thoroughfare of the town. The plans also reflected the changing location/distance of the sea in relation to the original amenities – the disappearing sea being a phenomenon that visitors to Southport will be familiar with!
Although the shelters were purchased from a local ironmonger, they were manufactured and supplied by David King & Sons, Keppoch Ironworks in Possilpark, Glasgow.
The company is less known than some of its contempories and near neighbours, such as the Saracen Foundry of the Macfarlane Company but is known to have specialised in the manufacture of ornamental ironwork for conservatories, bandstands, railings, gates, balconies and other items. In this respect it was similar to the Sun Foundry, also of Glasgow, and comparison of the products of the two foundries have led to speculation in some quarters of the existence of either collaboration or movement of personnel between the two companies.
Whatever the history of the shelters, by the time Lost Art were commissioned to restore them, they had all fallen into a state of considerable disrepair, shabby in appearance and unwelcoming and unattractive to visitors.
Lost Art Limited undertook the full restoration of all the shelters, which included the restoration of many of the benches within the structures.
Patterns were also created in order that replacement castings could be produced. In particular, the antifixae to the edges of the roof were an indication of the interrelationship between the foundries active at the time the shelters were produced – with examples of the same design appearing in structures such as bandstands produced and installed by the Baker Company, as well as the famous Saracen Foundry of the MacFarlane Company.
In addition to the overall levels of dilapidation, the project was also made more difficult by us having to overcome problems caused by previous attempts at repairs, using inappropriate techniques and materials.
However, the final result was of a complete set of fully restored and fine looking shelters that are once again proving popular with both residents and visitors alike.
KINGS GARDENS, SOUTHPORT: RESTORATION OF VICTORIAN SHELTERS
The Kings Gardens Shelters are a reflection of the late Victorian and early Edwardian intentions to establish Southport as a high end destination of choice for a particular class of visitor.
Historical records show that a total of 10 rectangular cast iron, timber and glass shelters were installed around the seafront and King’s Gardens area between 1887 and 1912 of which 9 remain and have been granted Grade II status.