Family-run Norfolk business create iconic Selfridges signs for London flagship store
PUBLISHED: 06:30 14 October 2018 | UPDATED: 15:34 14 October 2018
Courtesy of East Coast Casting
A family-run foundry in Norfolk was approached by Selfridges to create new bronze signs for their flagship store in London.
East Coast Casting, in Watton, had previously made signs for the high-end department store 18 years ago at the turn of the millennium, which are still displayed at the Oxford Street branch.
Earlier this year, staff at the metal casting company were tasked with creating two bronze signs emblazoned with the Selfridges logo for its new entrance at Duke Street, as part of a £300m revamp of its flagship London store.
East Coast Casting director Chris Isbill said the signs were made in January this year in time for the entrance unveiling last month.
The process of creating the signs has not changed for many years, said Mr Isbill, it is a traditional method combined with modern technology.
Around 200kg of bronze was fed into a furnace which reaches a melting temperature of 1,200 degrees. The molten bronze was then tipped into a crucible before being poured into a mould.
After a cooling period of around 24 hours, the mould was broken into two pieces to remove the casting, revealing the iconic Selfridges & Co typeface.
East Coast Casting has been with Chris Isbill’s family for three generations. It began trading in 1969 in Melton Constable in north Norfolk and was headed by Chris’ grandfather Wilfred Henry Isbill.
The business moved to Shipdham in the early 1970s, and following the death of Wilfred Isbill the company was taken over by his son Michael Isbill with Barry Sutton and Adrian Bennett.
The foundry moved to its current location in Norwich Road, Carbrooke, in 1985 with the third generation of the Isbill family, Michael’s son Chris, joining in 2005.
“The foundry trade is dying in the UK,” Mr Isbill said. “Which is a shame, we are probably only one of about 100 left.
“It’s great that Selfridges have come back to us, they were happy with our signs the first time.”
A film commissioned by Selfridges demonstrating the sign-making process at the foundry was broadcast during the unveiling of the bronze signs in Duke Street, London.
“It’s a solid piece of history,” Mr Isbill said.