Bryden & Middleton


Colour photograph of Bryden & Middleton's invoice for railings and grille at the Glasgow School of Art, 1909

Ironfounders and structural engineers Bryden & Middleton were started by George Middleton and his future brother-in-law, Archibald Robertson Bryden, around 1896. Bryden had impeccable connections to the Glasgow construction industry. His father, Robert A. Bryden (1841–1906), and brother, Andrew F. S. Bryden (1876–1917), were both prolific architects, initially with Clarke & Bell, and then independently. 1 Another brother, Charles J. Bryden, worked as a quantity surveyor, while his sister Margaret Lillia (who married Middleton in 1900), gave her occupation as 'artist (painting)', suggesting that she had received some training. 2 Archibald was named after his grandfather (wrongly given as 'Alexander Robertson' in some sources), a prosperous ironfounder of McDowall & Robertson, Milton Foundry (later McDowall & Steven). He was also a cousin of the wealthy Ure family, of Crownpoint Foundry, for whom his father designed the moulding shops in 1887. 3

Archibald's father and brother made extensive architectural study tours to Germany and Austria, 4 which may explain how Archibald came to marry a German, Anna Hassenstein. The firm worked out of the Merlin Ironworks, Scotstoun, where their playful telegraphic address was 'Wizard'. They produced a very wide range of products: heating and laundry engineering, girders, steel footbridges, roofing and tanks, gates, iron churches, iron doors, abattoir fittings, ornamental ironwork and structural steelwork. 5

In 1898, they fitted the heating in Glasgow Corporation's Maryhill Baths (A. B. MacDonald, City Engineer), 6 and in 1902 they won an award for their ornamental wrought iron at the People's Palace Museum Art Metal Work Exhibition. At the opening, the Lord Provost observed: 'Round many a villa [we may now see] a beautiful wrought iron fence, simple of form perhaps, but with a quality and beauty of line and form, supplanting the hideous creations of the founder's art of some thirty years ago, the most blatant quality of which was the word 'patent' stamped in assertive letters.' 7

George Middleton left the firm in 1907, eventually retiring to Peebles, where he died in 1933. 8 Archibald Bryden continued trading on his own account, with contracts such as the erection of the corrugated iron roof of a quayside goods shed in Aberdeen. 9 He died in 1944.

B/W Advertisement for Bryden & Middleton


1: Glasgow Contemporaries, Glasgow: Photo-Biographical Publishing, 1901, p. 146.

2: Census 1891, Margaret Bryden, Parish: Glasgow Barony; ED: 45; Page: 18; Line: 21; Roll: CSSCT1891_268, [accessed 23 April 2012].

3: Census 1861, John Ure, Parish: Dunoon; ED: 3; Page: 31; Line: 19; Roll: CSSCT1861_70; 1881, John Ure, Parish: Glasgow St John; ED: 20; Page: 7; Line: 18; Roll: cssct1881_217, [accessed 24 April 2012]; Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1880–1, p. 519; John R. Hume, Industrial Archaeology of Glasgow, Glasgow and London: Blackie, 1974, p. 194.

4: Dictionary of Scottish Architects, Biography Report, Andrew Bryden, [accessed 24 April 2012].

5: Glasgow Post Office Directories, 1897–1911.

6: Glasgow Herald, 31 May 1898, p. 4.

7: Scotsman, 24 December 1902, p. 6.

8: Edinburgh Gazette, 7 June 1907, p. 604; Scotsman, 4 September 1933, p. 16.

9: Scotsman, 13 October 1914, p. 7.