Robert Corbet & Son

Masons and brick work contractors

Robert Corbet (c. 1812–1880) was an established master bricklayer, in Bridgeton, in the East End of Glasgow. In 1857, he was contracted to build 'the tallest chimney shaft in the world'. This stood at J. Townsend's chemical works in Port Dundas, and was eventually 468 feet (142.65 m) high, topping the nearby 'Tennant's Stalk'. 1

Corbet's firm also made bricks, and in the mid-1870s acquired Newlands Brickworks, London Road, in an area with a high concentration of that industry. 2 Two of Corbet's sons joined 80-odd other employees, becoming assistant bricklayers in the 1870s. However, one died in 1877, leaving Walter Corbet (c. 1852–1923) working with his father. 3 The firm's style was changed to 'Robert Corbet & Son' around 1879, and then to '& Sons' around 1886. 4 In that year, Walter and younger brother John Burns Corbet sold the brickworks, including 'pressed, circle, stantion, header and common bricks ... navvy and masons' barrows, windlass, hand pumps ... ropes and blocks'. 5

Walter, a bachelor, lived with his mother on Onslow Drive, Dennistoun, from where he also ran the business, until both their deaths in 1911. 6 John B. Corbet left a sizeable estate of 11,021, in 1931, but the firm continued until entering voluntary liquidation in 1969. 7

Robert Corbet was religiously-inclined, and was heavily involved in the Free Church from the 1850s to the 1870s. 8

Notes:

1: Census 1851–1901, www.ancestry.co.uk; Wills Search, www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk [both accessed 20 February 2012]; Reynold's Newspaper, 19 September 1858, p. 12; John R. Hume, Industrial Archaeology of Glasgow, Glasgow: Blackie, 1974, pp. 168 (Gazetteer C59), 170 (Gazetteer C83).

2: Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1874–5, p. 140; Miles Oglethorpe, 'No Mean City: Industry and Technology – Quarrying and Brickmaking', The Glasgow Story, 2004, www.theglasgowstory.com [accessed 22 February 2013.

3: Census 1851–1901, www.ancestry.co.uk; Wills Search, www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk [both accessed 20 February 2012].

4: Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1879–80, p. 159; 1886–7, p. 198.

5: Glasgow Herald, 1 October 1886, p. 11; 8 October 1886, p. 11.

6: Glasgow Post Office directories, 1850–1911; Wills Search, www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk [accessed 20 February 2012].

7: Scotsman, 18 September 1931, p. 5; Edinburgh Gazette, 24 January 1969, p. 55–6; 25 April 1969, pp. 324–5.

8: Caledonian Mercury, 6 April 1858, p. 2; Glasgow Herald, 11 March 1868, p. 4; 25 July 1870, p. 1.