May 21, 2010 / 11:32 AM / 9 years ago

Struggling statue maker feels economic heat

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A 170-year-old British foundry that has made some of the world’s best known statues, including two of the lions in London’s Trafalgar Square and Saddam Hussein’s giant crossed-swords arch in Baghdad, faces closure.

The recession has cut global demand for statues and rising metal prices have eroded profits at Morris Singer, a company that can trace its roots back to the 1840s.

London-based administrator MCR has been appointed to oversee the business while it looks for a buyer to rescue the loss-making foundry.

“Despite its heritage and customer base, the business has fallen into a loss-making position and is unable to continue in its current form,” said Matt Bond, an MCR partner.

In the year to April 2010, it reported a pre-tax loss of 34,355 pounds ($49,360) on a turnover of 657,421 pounds.

During its long history, the foundry’s furnaces have created hundreds of statues, monuments and works of art that are on display around the world.

One of its biggest works was the bronze “Hands of Victory” monument for the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. The arch is formed by two hands holding swords crossed over the entrance to a parade ground in central Baghdad.

In London, the company made two of the four bronze lions that lie at the foot of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square. Designed by the 19th century English artist Edwin Landseer, they are said to be cast from captured French cannon.

Its gilt-covered Lady Justice, carrying a sword and scales, tops the dome of the Old Bailey court, scene of many of London’s biggest criminal trials.

In the United States, the company cast the huge metal doors for Washington Cathedral and English sculptor Barbara Hepworth’s largest work “Single Form”, a memorial to former U.N. Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold in United Nations Plaza, New York.

The administrators said they hoped Morris Singer, based in Essex, southeast England, will survive if a new owner can be found soon.

Reporting by Peter Griffiths; Editing by Steve Addison

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