James Milne & Son

Supplier of electric fittings

B/W Advertisement for James Milne & Son, 'Glasgow Building Trades Exchange', 1896, p. 191

James Milne & Son were probably the longest-established company working on Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh projects. The firm was founded 'prior to 1750' as brassfounders, and by 1773 they were 'Milln & Son', subsequently succeeded by various James or John Milnes in Edinburgh's High Street. 1 Around 1821 they fitted Walter Scott's home, Abbotsford, with an oil-gas plant and by 1837 they were making gas-meters. 2 In 1865, Milnes ‘kindly granted' their workman a reduction on the 57-hour working week. 3 Around 1885, they moved to the larger Milton House Works, in Abbeyhill. 4 Their Glasgow branch opened two years later, where they displayed gasoliers, pumps, light-fittings and the Wenham Patent Gas Lamp. 5

Milnes produced both industrial and decorative metalwork: gas-holders 25 feet in diameter for an Irish client; and more artistic wrought iron and copper coronas for architect William J. Anderson's 'early medieval' redecoration of Eglinton Street Church, Glasgow in 1895. 6 By the late 1890s, they were making 'lamps for lighthouses' and specialised in aluminium, newly available in Scotland at that date. 7 They won 'the silver medal at Leeds exhibition for fire [brigade] hose fittings in aluminium'; instead of costly brass, produced aluminium electroliers 'tipped with crimson' for Waverley Station’s restaurant; and in late 1899, made a 'gravestone in aluminium ... for Africa' to a soldier who probably fell in the Boer War. 8

Milnes restructured as a public company in 1899. 9 In 1906, a serious fire destroyed ‘new and expensive ... rolling mills, puching, [and] stamping’ machines, damage costing over 20,000. 10 Business later resumed. In 1908 a ‘lady (confidential) shorthand typist’ was sought, though by 1911, this had changed to ‘typist (male preferred)’! 11

Notes:

1: Glasgow Herald, 6 May 1899, p. 1; Scotsman, 24 December 1906, p. 6; Williamson's Directory for Edinburgh 1773–4, reprint William Brown, 1889, p. 55.

2: Scotsman, 28 September 1935, p. 15; Edinburgh Post Office Directory, 1837–8, p. 75.

3: Caledonian Mercury, 30 September 1865, p. 2.

4: Edinburgh Post Office Directory, 1885–6, p. 183.

5: Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1888–9, p. 448; Glasgow Herald, 14 September 1887, p. 1; 22 November 1887, p. 1.

6: Belfast News-Letter, 26 May 1882, p. 2; Glasgow Herald, 2 September 1895, p. 6.

7: Aberdeen Weekly Journal, 29 June 1896, p. 5; C. A. Russell and S. A. H. Wilmot, 'Metal Extraction and Refining', in C. A. Russell, ed., Chemistry, Society and Environment, Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry, 2002, p. 314.

8: Glasgow Herald, 28 December 1897, p. 10; 27 December 1899, p. 9.

9: Glasgow Herald, 6 May 1899, pp. 1, 5; Edinburgh Gazette, 5 May 1899, p. 455.

10: Scotsman, 24 December 1906, p. 6.

11: Scotsman, 6 May 1908, p. 14; 21 August 1911, p. 1.