We were contacted by a property owner in West Yorkshire whose cottage had an incredibly unique decorative hopper head and pipe, originally made by Walter McFarlane in Glasgow and probably well over a hundred years old. The ironware was in extremely poor condition, but the client was keen to preserve these beautiful features by repairing them. If this were not feasible, the budget would only allow replacement with plain, standard castings.  

Walter McFarlane & Co (1850-1965) was once the most important manufacturer of ornamental ironwork in Scotland producing decorative, often elaborate, castings that have significant historical interest and value; we were keen to preserve this if possible.  

At J & JW Longbottom we relish a challenge, and after an experienced fitter carefully removed the ironwork from the property and brought it to our works in Holmfirth, our team assessed the work involved and decided that all the castings could be repaired and renovated to restore them to their original glory.  

After decades, and even centuries of battling the elements, cast iron can face wear and tear. We’ve seen every way it can buckle under pressure, including collapsed drains, leaking pipes and corroded hoppers. Castings sometimes fail due to cracks appearing behind hoppers and fixings and in grooved fittings, allowing water to corrode the metal. 

The pipes from this property were in various states of disrepair, one length had a side and back piece missing with an unsightly plastic section inserted to make sure it still carried water and others had damaged sockets and ears. There was also a missing shoe (fits to the downpipe to channel the water into a drain) 

 and the hopper head was damaged in several places, including a section at the bottom which was completely missing.  

We replaced the weak and missing parts on the backs of all castings with new cast iron sections, welded any cracks and repaired broken pipe sockets. The bottom of one of the pipes was carefully fabricated into a matching shoe.  

The stunning hopper head needed the most attention. Whilst ornamental in appearance, the hopper head is an integral part of the guttering system, sitting above the outlet pipe, collecting water from the gutters and diverting it to the downpipe. With broken pieces thankfully retained, we were able to refit and where the bottom piece was missing, our skilled engineers re-moulded a piece to match on the opposite side. We also fitted a new back section; the rear of a hopper head often needs replacing at some point. Once repaired, it will prolong its life for many years to come.  

 With a top-quality decorating job by the fitter, the finished castings looked excellent and the property was restored to its period splendour. The client was delighted he was able to keep the original ironwork, which will continue to keep the property safe from rainwater for many years to come.