James Simpson

Cabinet maker and upholsterer

James Simpson (c. 1841–1904) was a Glasgow cabinetmaker and upholsterer. The family firm was established by his father, John Simpson, who first appears in the Post Office directory in 1846 at 102 London Street (though later sources say the firm was founded as early as 1820). 1 To judge from the growth of its premises, the business expanded steadily. By 1870 it occupied 104 (formerly John Simpson's dwelling) as well as 102, and alterations were planned which required 'the removal of Partitions, the building of inside Staircases, and the Refitting of the whole Interior of the Show Rooms'. 2 In 1884, a total rebuilding was completed, and the enlarged shop now extended from 102 to 108. 3 As well as the shop in London Street, there was a workshop in Franklin Street, Bridgeton. A further rebuilding was planned in 1901, but did not proceed. James Simpson died in 1904, and the business was transferred to his sons, Herbert Muir Simpson and Kenneth Muir Simpson, the firm becoming James Simpson & Sons. 4 In 1905–6 it moved from London Street to 309–313 Sauchiehall Street, a large new building designed for the purpose by Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh. The name changed to Muir Simpson's in 1914, and in 1941 it was finally taken over by Glasgow drapers Fraser, Sons & Co. Ltd. 5

John Simpson lived next door to his shop, but by 1870 his son had moved a few streets away to 13 Binnie Place; by 1880 he had left Glasgow's industrial East End and was living in a suburban tenement at 5 Royal Crescent, in the salubrious Crosshill area bordering the leafy open space of Queen's Park; and by 1886 he had attained the seclusion of a parkside villa, The Knowe, in nearby Queen's Drive. 6


1: Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1846–7; Glasgow To-Day, Glasgow: Henry Munro, 1909, p. 83.

2: Glasgow Herald, 6 April 1870, p. 2.

3: Glasgow Herald, 7 April 1884, p. 1.

4: Edinburgh Gazette, 20 September 1904, p. 1010.

5: Glasgow University Archive Services: House of Fraser archive, www.housefraserarchive.ac.uk/company/?id=c0709 [accessed 19 January 2012].

6: Glasgow Post Office directories, 1870–86.