British Dyewood & Chemical Co.


The British Dyewood and Chemical Co. Ltd, of 53 Bothwell Street, Glasgow, was created through the amalgamation of four smaller concerns in 1898, a move which was intended to 'reduce competition and ... [enable] important economies in their purchases ... production and distribution'. 1 The four businesses concerned were E. D. Milnes & Bro. and Mucklow & Co., both based at Bury in Lancashire, John Dawson & Co. of Eglinton Dyewood Mills, Alloa, founded in 1852, and W. R. Scott & Co. of Carntyne Dyewood Mills, Parkhead (originally McArthur, Scott & Co., founded in 1883). 2 The new firm were 'importers of Dyewood and Tanning Materials, Manufacturers of ... Tanning Extracts, and General Drysalters'. 3

Raw dyewood materials (literally, wood which produced dyestuff) included 'Persian berry, logwood, quebracho, fustic and quercitron bark', which produced mainly yellow, brown and red pigments for use on textiles, leather, and in printing and ink. At Carntyne, Glasgow, in 1901, dyewoods or tanning materials were ground in mills, and treated with water, to produce extracts containing colouring materials. 4 Their sources were international: quercitron (black oak) from North America; quebracho from Argentina and Bolivia; Malaysian and Philippine sapan; Mediterranean sumac; Carribean and South American dividivi and fustic; myrobolans and cutch from India and S. E. Asia; and logwood, which grew from Mexico southwards. 5

American competition forced restructuring in 1909–11, but during the First World War, ‘old fustic’ or dyer’s mulberry proved a major source of khaki army-uniform dye, and income, for the company. British-Indian regiments in the 19th century had previously used cutch to produce the dust-coloured camouflage. 6 7


1: Glasgow Herald, 23 May 1898, p. 1.

2: Glasgow Herald, 23 May 1898, p. 1; Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1891–2, p. 379, 538; Glasgow Herald, 23 May 1898, p. 1..

3: Glasgow Herald, 23 May 1898, p. 1.

4: G. G. Henderson, 'Chemical Industries', in Angus McLean, ed., Local Industries of Glasgow and the West of Scotland, Glasgow: British Association, 1901, pp. 159–91.

5: C. Rawson, W. M. Gardner, W. F. Laycock, Dictionary of Dyes, Mordants and Other Compounds, London: Charles Griffin, 1918, pp. 139, 257, 268–9, 272, 313–14; Rita Buchanan, A Weaver's Garden, Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Press, 1999, pp. 83–5; C. A. Russell, Chemistry, Society and Environment, Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry, 2000, pp. 203–5; 'Quebracho', Paul Lagassť, ed., The Columbia Encyclopedia, online (6th) edition, [accessed 4 June 2013]; E. F. Legner, 'Tanning, Dye & Processing Materials', Plants of Economic ... Importance, online database, University of California, Riverside, [accessed 4 June 2013].

6: 'British Dyewood Co. Ltd', online catalogue record, Scottish Archive Network, [accessed 4 June 2013]; Edinburgh Gazette, 17 September 1909, p. 997; 21 December 1909, p. 1393; 16 December 1910, p. 1346; 23 December 1910, p. 1366.

7: Teresinha and Mike Roberts, 'Old Fustic (Maclura Tinctoria)', 'Dyeing with Cutch (Acacia catechu)', [accessed 4 June 2013].