The Mercado Central in Santiago in Chile is a remarkable example of Nineteenth Century prefabrication and long distance contracting. The structure, almost entirely of cast iron is unusual for the 1860s, when wrought iron was in the ascendency. It was masterfully detailed by its designer, Charles Driver, one of the few nineteenth century architects comfortable working with iron.
The structure was cast in Scotland and erected temporarily at the foundry. There the pieces were numbered before all the components were sent on their long journey round Cape Horn to Chile,where it was erected within a space surrounded by masonry buildings.
This paper follows the history of this exceptional building from British records, before it arrived at its destination. The story complements what is known of the building from research in Santiago and focuses on the complexities of making such structures for distant markets in the early stages of globalization.