Paterson Brothers

Gasfitters and bellhangers

Paterson Brothers, 'general and furnishing ironmongers, metal and india rubber merchants, plumbers, gasfitters and zinc workers', and agricultural implement agents, were based at Brownlie's Buildings, Main Street, Barrhead, near Glasgow. Brothers William (born c. 1854) and Matthew (born c. 1864) were the sons of a cotton bleacher, who had to retrain as an engine-fitter's apprentice in the early 1870s, due to the decline in the textile trade. 1 The family typify the versatility and adaptability of many small business of the day. Like many others who worked as bellhangers, the Patersons also became electricians, being already familiar with wiring through the installation of electric bells. 2 As plumbers they were involved in the installation of heating at Neilston School Extension in 1892. 3

They made biscuit tins in the mid-1890s, and sold ‘Swift Cycles’ with new Dunlop rubber tyres during the cycling boom around the turn of the 20th century. They advertised this as 'the simplest way of combining exercise with pleasure.' 4 By 1912, they had exchanged advertising 'incandesent gas light, superior to electric' to 'Osram Drawn Wire Lamps'. 5 A new private company, registered in 1930, encompassed plumbing, coppersmiths, motor engineering and a garage proprietorship. 6 By the mid 1960s they were listed as 'haulage contractors'. The company was wound up between 1963 and 1965. 7


1: Slater's Royal National and Commercial Directory of Scotland 1886, Advertising appendix, p. 119; census information, [accessed 11 July 2012].

2: Slater's Royal National and Commercial Directory of Scotland 1886, p. 1077; Glasgow Post Office Directories, 1895–1911.

3: Glasgow Herald, 16 November 1894, p. 2; 1 August 1895, p. 2.

4: James Brownlie Collection, Arthurlie Biscuit Factory tin, Resource I.D. 66, East Renfrewshire's Heritage Collection, [accessed 13 July 2012]; Glasgow Herald, 16 July 1898, p. 3.

5: Glasgow Herald, 19 December 1894, p. 11; Scotsman, 18 October 1912, p. 9.

6: Scotsman, 20 December 1930, p. 6; 1915 Valuation Rolls, [accessed 13 July 2012].

7: Edinburgh Gazette, 22 November 1963, p. 788; 3 December 1965, p. 819.