Description of Historic Place
The Pictou Iron Foundry is located prominently on the waterfront on Front Street in Pictou, Nova Scotia. The three separate brick buildings that make up the site were built in 1855. The buildings and property are included in the provincial designation.
The Pictou Iron Foundry is valued because the buildings that make up the foundry represent the best examples known for pre-National Policy industrial buildings in Nova Scotia. They may be the earliest surviving iron foundry buildings in the province.
The Pictou Iron Foundry was built in 1855 by William Henry Davies. A native of Staffordshire, England, Davies had come to Stellarton, Nova Scotia in 1830 to manage the Albion Iron Foundry at the invitation of Richard Smith, the first manager and engineer of the General Mining Association. This company was one of the most powerful in the province, with almost a monopoly on coal mining in Nova Scotia at the time. While in Stellarton, Davies built stationary steam engines and assembled locomotives, the first to run in Nova Scotia.
Davies gave up his lease of the Albion Iron Foundry in 1855 and in the same year established a foundry in Pictou. He chose a location on the Pictou waterfront that allowed him access to both the harbour and railroad for transport of his products. Davies seems to have erected first the building used to house the cupola furnace for melting iron, today known as the "Blacksmith's Shop." Later he constructed two separate brick sections, which came to house office space and a machine shop.
The foundry passed to Davies's sons, George and Charles, and from them to a company under the Pictou Iron Foundry. By the 1930s, the foundry was owned and managed by R.A. Ferguson and his brothers. The site consisted of a machine, boiler, moulding, pattern, blacksmith and carpenter shops. The foundry employed about thirty men. During the Second World War and afterwards, the work of the foundry was almost entirely concerned with shipbuilding.
The buildings making up the Pictou Iron Foundry are outstanding examples of pre-National Policy industrial buildings in Nova Scotia. They are constructed of brick and the courtyard feature of the layout is reminiscent of much earlier industrial buildings in the province. Aside from the significance of the buildings themselves, they house a remarkable collection of industrial artefacts, especially in the "Blacksmith's Shop."
The buildings are now used for storage and apartment space.
Source: Provincial Heritage Program property files, no. 161, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS.
Character-defining elements of the Pictou Iron Foundry include:
- three buildings of brick construction; two one-storey and one two-and-a-half storey buildings, in their original configuration conducive to industrial activity;
- cut stone foundation of the blacksmith's shop;
- features common to industrial buildings of their era, including king post roof trusses, returned eaves in brick, six-over-six windows with inlaid brick arches on 102 and 106 Front Street;
- two twelve-over-twelve symmetrically-placed windows on the front façade with central entrance between them on 100 Front Street;
- shared courtyard;
- prominent location on the waterfront.
Location of Supporting Documentation
Provincial Heritage Program property files, no. 161, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS.
Cross-Reference to Collection
Selected artefacts located at the Nova Scotia Museum of Industry, Stellarton, Nova Scotia, http://museum.gov.ns.ca/moi.