The firm of ironfounders and ironmongers was founded by Henry Blomfield Lankester (1773-1837) in c.1800 when, after arriving in the town from Suffolk, he purchased a long-standing local iron manufacturing business. The firm originally operated from premises at 122 High Street before moving to 136 High Street. On his retirement in 1829 two of his five surviving sons, William (1798-1875) and Joseph (1802 -1857), took over the running of the firm which was then styled W & J Lankester.

The Lankesters were liberal in politics and nonconformist in religion and they took an active part in the political and religious life of the town. William Lankester in 1848 provided the land in St Mary Street on which Albion Chapel, the second Congregational chapel in the town, was built.

By 1840 the firm operated an iron and brass foundry, known as the Holy Rood Foundry (image 2), in Bernard Street, a shop at 136 High Street (image 4) and a yacht supply store (image 3) in Bridge Street (Bernard Street). The cast iron railings and gates at Queen Victoria’s Osborne House on the Isle of Wight were cast at the Holy Rood Foundry. In 1857 William Goddard Lankester (1828-1895), son of William Lankester, became manager of the firm. In 1874 it became known as Lankester and Son after Charles Lankester joined the firm.

William Goddard and his wife Mary (see above) continued the family’s religious and political traditions, and were active in the local temperance movement.

The Holy Rood Foundry appears to have been demolished in the 1970s. The original shop on the High Street was destroyed during the Blitz and rebuilt after the war. It moved to new premises on Shirley High Street in 1972.

The following description of the foundry is taken from George Measom, The official illustrated guide to the London and South-Western Railway, [1864], pages 388-91:

William Lankester and Son, Furnishing and Ship Ironmongers, Cutlers, Iron and Brass Founders, Braziers, and General Manufacturers. Manufactory – Holyrood Place and Bridge Street. Retail Establishment – High Street. Established 1645

"The manufactory in Holyrood Place, just out of the High Street, is bounded by the old walls and Bridge Street; the counting house adjoining the church of Holyrood]. Passing from the High Street, we have on our left the cart and carriage sheds and pattern makers’, painters’ and japanners’ shops. Entering the works, we observe also on our left the offices; time-keeper’s office; stores, containing copper in sheets, wire, copper tubes, of all dimensions, zinc, brass, and upwards of a thousand other articles used by the firm in the works. On our right may be seen the braziers, copper plate workers, tin and iron plate workers, and the iron and brass foundries, containing two large cranes and “core” room: in it is the steam-engine and boiler, having a shaft nearly 100 feet high. Here we ascend an iron stage from which the two smelting cupolas are fed. Passing through a gateway on our right, we entered an extensive range of smiths’ shops; and beyond these, fitters’ shops, steam turnery, &c, the upper floor being devoted to the locksmiths, bellhangers, and gasfitters. In another portion of the premises the hot water apparatus, for which the firm are celebrated, is made. The hot water apparatus manufactured here is alike suitable for the church, the shop, the mansion, and the residence of the professional man and the tradesman. Messrs Lankester and Son are also makers of large and small fire and gas cooking apparatus, and have for years had the repairing of the cooking apparatus of ships entering the port of Southampton.

On the left of the hot water apparatus department are the stables and the erecting shop, containing all necessary implements, of the best make and finish. On the left is the brass foundry and additional pattern shops. The hands employed number nearly 100.""

1. William Goddard Lankester

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Photograph from the Southern Reformer, 19th June 1880

2. Lankester and Son Iron Foundry Interior

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An interior view of the foundry from Mates Illustrated Handbook of Southampton, 1900.

3. Lankester and Son Yacht Supply Store, Bridge Street

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Photograph, c.1930

4. Lankester and Son Ironmongers Shop, High Street

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A view of the High Street shop, from Russell’s Guide to Southampton, 1936.

Holy Rood Church With Lankester's Foundry at the Rear

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Engraving by Frank McFadden, c.1895


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