William Beattie

Client

William Beattie (1853–1919), wholesale baker, was born in Ballymena, Co. Antrim, and moved with his father, Francis (himself a master baker), to Glasgow in the 1860s. 1 William was a baker's apprentice by 1871, while his father, meantime, supported them as a boilermaker's labourer in Springburn. 2 Beattie was known for his 'prodigious' energy: he opened his own shop in 1876, and rapidly expanded in Bellgrove Street. 3 By 1881, he had sixteen employees, compared to his father's eleven.

In 1886, he announced 'the manufacture of the genuine Vienna Bread, at his new Vienna Bakery, Paton Street, Dennistoun'; this product 'suggests a higher class of clientele than ... his competitors'. 4 Factory enlargement was necessary as early as 1887, and continued intermittently until 1908. 5

Beattie and competitors Gray, Dunn & Co., Bilsland Brothers and Macfarlane, Lang reduced their working week in 1889, from fifty-five to fifty hours, and agreed 5 a.m. as the new starting time. A few 'early men' would 'prepare the dough for weighing out' at 2 a.m. 6

Beattie's success led to fraudulent imitators, whom he threatened to prosecute in the 1890s, but wealth also enabled him to indulge his interest in art. 7 He purchased paintings by Joshua Reynolds and James Maris, and was a council member of the Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts (1897). 8 Beattie was also one of many executive committee members for the 1901 Glasgow International Exhibition. 9 His appreciation of architecture may have caused him to choose the former home (Broomknowe, 3 Broompark Circus, Dennistoun) of architects W. F. Salmon and James Salmon Senior, for his own family in 1891. 10

Notes:

1: Census and marriage data, www.ancestry.co.uk [accessed 3 April 2013]; Glasgow Herald, 8 April 1919, p. 8.

2: Census data, www.ancestry.co.uk [accessed 3 April 2013].

3: B. M. White, 'William Beattie', in A. Slaven and S. Checkland, eds, Dictionary of Scottish Business Biography, 2: Processing, Distribution, Glasgow: Aberdeen University Press, 1990, pp. 16–17.

4: Glasgow Herald, 10 November 1886, p. 1; B. M. White, 'William Beattie', in A. Slaven and S. Checkland, eds, Dictionary of Scottish Business Biography, 2: Processing, Distribution, Glasgow: Aberdeen University Press, 1990, pp. 16–17.

5: Glasgow Herald, 27 March 1885, p. 10; 11 June 1886, p. 9; 24 June 1887, p. 10; B. M. White, 'William Beattie', in A. Slaven and S. Checkland, eds, Dictionary of Scottish Business Biography, 2: Processing, Distribution, Glasgow: Aberdeen University Press, 1990, pp. 16–17.

6: Glasgow Herald, 1 October 1889, p. 10.

7: Glasgow Herald, 11 October 1895, p. 1.

8: Glasgow Herald, 5 February 1897, p. 12; 8 February 1897, p. 12; 9 August 1899, p. 6.

9: Glasgow Herald, 26 November 1897, p. 10.

10: Glasgow Post Office Directories, 1864–1920; census data www.ancestry.co.uk [accessed 3 April 2013]; 'W. F. and James Salmon (Senior)', Dictionary of Scottish Architects, 1840–1980, www.scottisharchitects.org.uk [accessed 3 April 2013].