Alexander Cousland & Son

Wire workers

Colour photograph of Alex Cousland & Son's invoice for wirework at the Glasgow School of Art, 1899

Alexander Cousland (1800–1875), a wireworker, first appears in the Glasgow Post Office Directory in 1850 and advertised jointly with his elder brother, Archibald (1791–1852) in 1852–3. Archibald had set up a wireworks in New Wynd, Trongate, Glasgow, around 1832. By the mid 1840s he was producing wire cloth and garden fences, and supported his younger brother's efforts to found his own company 'Alexander Cousland' in Mitchell Street in 1850. 1 Following Archibald's death, his son entered his father's firm, but it was liquidated in 1894. 2

By contrast Alexander's firm expanded. The company became 'Alexander Cousland & Son' around 1870, with the addition of his son Joseph S. Cousland. 3 They made wire-cloth or mesh for mills, bakers, gardeners, chemical- and sugar-refining and starch makers, collieries and rice plantations. 4 The firm became William Riddell, Cousland & Co., and then Begg, Cousland & Co. of Springfield Wire Works. 5 It was still under family control in 2011. 6

Alexander's eldest son, James Napier Cousland (1832–66), became an architect and is credited as one of the designers of the Kibble Palace glasshouse in Glasgow's Botanic Gardens, which was originally built for another wire manufacturer. 7

B/W Advertisement for Alexander Cousland & Son, 'Glasgow Building Trades Exchange', 1896, p. 249


1: Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1845–6, 1848–9, 1850–1; Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1852–3, appendix p. 184.

2: Will and testament information, [accessed 10 December 2011]; Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1889–90; Edinburgh Gazette, 15 May 1894, p. 8.

3: Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1870–1, Advertisement Appendix p. 195.

4: Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1896–7.

5: Edinburgh Gazette, 28 May 1935, p. 5; Administrative History, Records of Begg, Cousland and Co. Ltd (UGD249), Glasgow University Archive Services, [accessed 11 December 2011].

6: Begg Cousland Company History, [accessed 10 December 2011].

7: 'James Cousland', [accessed 10 December 2011]; Eric W. Curtis, Kibble's Palace, Glendaruel: Argyll Publishing, 1999, pp. 19–21.