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French Barns, Cambridge Rolls & Register Grates
Ironmongery and Farm Machinery from the Lion Works
by Ann Malpas
ISBN 0 9536314 0 0
£5: plus £3:50 p&p
First published 1999
This book is the sequel to The Lion Hotel and Ballroom, the story of a once famous coaching inn situated in Broad Street, Leominster, Herefordshire.
It tells how Samuel Alexander, an ironmonger from a Quaker family with links with the banking world, came to Leominster in 1855 to set up a new ironmongery and agricultural machinery business and chose the former Lion Hotel, its ballroom and yard for his premises.
There he laid the foundations of a firm which eventually became the leading agricultural engineering company in Herefordshire and the biggest single employer in Leominster. In tracing the history of this company, the author Ann Malpas has also included an account of many other local agricultural engineering and ironmongery businesses.
The book is illustrated with drawings, maps and photographs, many of which will evoke memories of life on farms and in the countryside long ago. The artefacts which the ironmongers made and supplied in those far-off days still survive in many places, as this book shows. The traditional farmyards may be a thing of the past, but old implements may still be found lurking in the nettles or under the hedges.
A once-movable chicken house may remain in the orchard where it settled down years ago, and in the farmhouses and barns the remains of old ways of doing things, mangles, kitchen ranges, chaffcutters, corn grinders may still be seen.
On many of these articles the name of the maker may be made out, and if you are in the Leominster area, or even further afield, the chances are that the name on the cast iron plate or the enamel label will be Alexander and Duncan, the firm whose history is traced in this book.