William Forbes

Pavior and plasterer

The son of a farm worker from Dornoch, in Sutherland, William Forbes (c. 1852–c. 1927) had arrived in Glasgow by 1877, when he was working as a journeyman, or day-labouring plasterer. 1 He was married to a stone-cutter's daughter from Morayshire, an area well-known for its granite industry. Forbes first appears in the Glasgow Post Office Directory for 1892–3, listed as a self-employed 'pavior (Granolithic) and plasterer'. Granolithic was a type of dense, impact-resistant flooring invented by an Aberdeen granite-merchant. It had been patented as a trade name in 1880, but had come into common use as denoting concrete of crushed granite and Portland cement, as explained in an Edinburgh legal case of 1885. 2 Granolithic was spread and levelled when wet, and was especially useful for public entrances, hospitals and shops with high foot-traffic.

From the 1890s, Forbes's workshop was at 167 West Graham Street, which had already been advertised as a plasterer's yard in 1882, presumably by a previous tenant. 3 It was situated in an upper-working- and lower-middle-class area N. of Garnethill and the Glasgow School of Art. Forbes's eldest son, George, had joined him in business by 1901, and another three sons by 1911, although the style of the firm did not reflect this until c. 1913. 4 When Forbes died in 1926–7, he left the surprisingly large sum of 14,238. The firm continued at least until after his son George's death in 1940. 5


1: Statutory Marriages Register (685/01, 0368), 1877, W. Forbes and J. Mackie, www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk [accessed 12 May 2012].

2: 'Stuart v. Val de Travers', Scottish Law Reporter, 23, 1885–6, pp. 11–18.

3: Glasgow Herald, 21 March 1882, p. 1.

4: Censuses, 1901 and 1911, www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk [accessed 12 May 2012]; 'Wm. Forbes & Sons', Glasgow Valutation Rolls 1913–14, Survey Book 538, Ward 15, p. 65, www.theglasgowstory.com [accessed 12 May 2012].

5: Scotsman, 26 March 1927, p. 9; 25 November 1940, p. 8.