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UK - Bronze foundry expands business

A foundry which has cast statues marking the Highland Clearances and has decorated the Royal Ascot racecourse is expanding its operations.

For Black Isle Bronze, which is based in Nairn, business is booming in times of financial uncertainty.

The company has decided to install a larger furnace to meet demand for double life-size castings.

It has received a £10,000 Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) grant towards its £43,000 expansions plans.

Orders booked

It cast the new statue to 19th Century Scots physicist James Clerk Maxwell which has just been unveiled in Edinburgh.

His theory of electromagnetism was voted the joint-top equation of all time and he has been recognised by the unveiling of the first statue to be put up in the capital's George Street for almost a century.

Future commissions for the foundry include two double life-size statues for Newcastle United Football Club, and monuments to engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel and athlete Sir Roger Bannister.

Farquhar Laing, 38, who is from the Black Isle, started the business as a one man band with £200 for materials.

He now employs eight staff and has orders booked for the next year.

Mr Laing said: "We already have the largest melting capacity of its type in Scotland, but this expansion will double our melting capacity, to put us on a par with the largest English foundries.

"This expansion will not only enable us to be more competitive with our larger counterparts south of the Border, but also complement the skills that we have here at Black Isle Bronze which are now in huge demand.

"Once this expansion is complete, it's safe to say we will be the largest foundry of this type north of Birmingham. Our goal is to maintain and enhance what we do already."

He said the company was about to start work on two large World War I memorials for the US.

Previous work has included castings for the art work in Falcon Square, Inverness, and a copy of the Highland Clearances statue in Helmsdale, Sutherland, for Canada.

Ruaraidh MacNeil, HIE's head of operations for the Inner Moray Firth, said the foundry's work was in demand.

He added: "This is exactly the type of enterprise that we are delighted to assist."

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