3 – Balustrades, Bridges and Special Assignments

Pulham’s Balustrades and Bridges

James Pulham and Son’s Garden Ornament Catalogue included illustrations of several balustrade patterns that were provided by the firm, several of which are illustrated in Pulham Rock Gardens.   One that is likely to have been made by them, but not included in the Catalogue – probably because it was designed by someone else – bounds the terrace and curved staircase of Ardross Castle, Ross-shire, shown here on the left of Fig 3.1.   These gardens were designed by Edward White, son-in-law of H E Milner, but there was sadly no room to include them in the book.

 Fig 3.1  –  Pulham Balustraded Terrace at Ardross Castle (1909), and rustic bridge at Buckingham Palace (1903-04)

 As one explores and examines the work that James Pulham and Son did over the years, it becomes increasingly evident how versatile they were – that they were extremely good engineers, for example, as well as being talented artists and skilled stone-modelling craftsmen.   As one looks at the massive ‘rock’ archway at Madresfield, for example – shown on the left of Fig 4.1 – one marvels at the way in which the ‘rocks’ at the top manage to stay in place, and yet they have remained safe and secure for more than 130 years!  

The firm also built a number of bridges across the waterways on which they worked.   These seem to have fallen into three main categories, i.e., ‘formal’, ‘rustic’ and ‘ornamental’.   The two bridges at Buckingham Palace – the larger of which is shown on the right of Fig 3.1 – is an example of a typical ‘rustic’ bridge, and this is also discussed in the book..

Pulham’s ‘Special Assignments’

James Pulham and Son were awarded two special assignments in 1867 by the Science Department of the South Kensington Museum – now the V & A Museum.   One was to create a terracotta monument to the Irish painter, William Mulready – the designer of which was Geoffrey Sykes – which now resides in the Kensal Green Cemetery, and the other was to provide the terracotta ornamentation for the Exhibition Road façade of the V & A Science School, now known as the Henry Cole Wing.   Both of these features are discussed in the book.

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