CANTERBURY HISTORICAL 

& ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY (CHAS)

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The Canterbury business H M Biggleston & Sons (trading earlier as Drury & Co, then Drury and Biggleston) produced iron castings in Canterbury from 1835 until the final closure of the foundry in 1963.  The business worked at several sites - in Crown Yard (behind the Cuban Restaurant off High Street) and on Jewry Lane and Whitehorse Lane.  It also ran ironmongers' stores in Upper Bridge Street and Dover Road (Images 1, 2 and 3).  Output from the foundry sites included railway girders and bridgework (for the South East Railway 1846), the original metal bridge over Riding Gate (replaced in 1970 and today in use at Heathfield Safari Park), ironwork for the first attempt at a Channel Tunnel (1880), and hundreds of lamp posts and railings used across Canterbury city.  Six generations of the Biggleston family were involved in the business, descendants of William Henry Biggleston who arrived in Canterbury in 1835 and stayed at the Chance Inn  in Dover Street - now rebuilt several times and trading as Tonic Bar 11 Dover Street (no blue plaque yet?).  By 1841 the census shows the family living in the early 18th century house facing Crown Yard (example 9 below).

 

What follows is a catalogue of Biggleston items which are known to survive in Canterbury today.  Some bear the Biggleston or Drury and Biggleston name, cast into the ironwork; others bear no name but reputedly came from the Crown Yard foundry.  There are likely to be others that we have missed - do please let us know if you spot any.

 

  • A lamp post bearing he Biggleston name in Dane John gardens (Image 4) - the name temporarily obscured by an advertising sticker for the Federation of Anarchists (!?)

  • One of two lamp posts bearing the Biggleston name in Castle Street - between junctions with Castle Row and St Mary Street (Image 5)

  • A lamp post (rusting badly) in Linden Grove bearing the Biggleston name (Image 6)

  • A lamp post in Westgate Grove bearing the Biggleston name (Image 7)

  • Three posts in Castle Street near the St Mary Street junction - writing at the foot of the middle post exists but is difficult to read (Image 8)

  • A lamp post bearing the Biggleston name in the raised footpath leading to Castle Row (Image 9)

  • Two gate posts in the entrance beside the Cuban Restaurant at 41 High Street - the original access to the foundry works.  These are the clearest Biggleston name text, as they have enjoyed a protected location (Image 10)

  • Domestic railings at the entrance to Adelaide Place near Castle Street are clearly marked 'Drury and Biggleston Canterbury' (Image 11)

  • Domestic railings running alongside the Cuban Restaurant entrance bear the marking 'D & Co' - presumably for Drury and Co (Image 12)

  • Surviving early ironwork at the Radigund car park end of Duck Lane (Image 13) and at the Westgate Hall Road end of the Pound Lane car park (Image 14) bear no text but are plausibly reputed to be Biggleston work

  • Two old lamp posts have been spotted by Clare Lyn in Abbot's Barton Walk (Images 15 and 16).  These do not bear the Biggleston name but have 'collars' attached which seem to have been lamp post identity numbers

 

Sources:  Graham (2006); Wood (nd);  web site Grace's Guide

 

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