Minutes of an Ordinary Meeting held at Adelaide’s , 209 Bath Street
on Thursday 13th December 2012 at 7.30pm
Ms Sannachan (President)
Ms Sannachan welcomed everybody to the December meeting of the OGC and explained the fire drill procedures. She requested
that all mobiles be silenced or switched off.
The minutes of the last ordinary meeting held on Thursday 8th November were approved, proposed by Isobel Haddow and
seconded by Sam Gordon. There were no amendments.
No points arising.
Mrs McNae welcomed everyone to the meeting and said how great it was to see them on this cold night.
Mrs McNae asked if everyone had bought their raffle tickets.
A reminder for those members that had been on the tour of Glasgow Cathedral and hadn’t made their donation, could they
please hand it in at the desk tonight.
Mrs McNae said that there are some must see exhibitions running at Glasgow Museums at the present time.
Art Detectives : Investigating Bosch and Bruegel until 28th February 2013 and Pharaoh : King of Egypt until 24th February at
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.
Jean-Francois Millet : Under Investigation until 8th January at The Burrell Collection.
Further information on all Glasgow Art Galleries and Museums can be found at www.glasgowlife.org.uk
Members night this session falls on 14th February so we will be having a Valentines theme, Glasgow style.
Tappit Hen Tournament is back at Kelvingrove Park for the 2013 tournament. I’m sure the west enders will be pleased about that.
J.A.S Wilson Memorial Walk will take place on Saturday 1st June. It is a walk around Kinning Park which will be led by
Mr Brian D Henderson (former President OGC).
The OGC annual outing is on Saturday 8th June and is to the town of Inveraray and Inveraray Castle. Details to follow.
Mrs McNae finished by confirming next month’s speaker as Ms Glenda White who will speak on “David Stow; A sort of Amateur
Ms Sannachan introduced Ms Clare Paterson from Glasgow University Archive Services who will speak on ‘A Shopper’s Paradise:
The House of Fraser Archive.”
Being the archive of a retail giant we are really spoilt for images since there are som many. Frasers at Christmas is a lovely sight.
The company was founded in 1849, when partners Hugh Fraser and James Arthur opened a small drapery shop on the corner of
Argyle Street and Buchanan Street in Glasgow. The business premises required extensive alteration to create a new access point
from Buchanan Street. It was opened as a cash only store. The main shopping area before Argyle Arcade opened in 1820 was the
Trongate area of Glasgow.
Hugh Fraser was born in 1815, the son of a Dunbartonshire farmer. He was apprenticed to Stewart & McDonald Ltd, a well known
And respected drapery warehouse, where he rose to the position of warehouse manager before deciding to go into business with
Arthur. Hugh Fraser was a popular figure and many of his customers from Stewart & McDonald followed him when Arthur &
Fraser began trading.
The background of James Arthur was slightly different from Fraser in that he had previously owned a retail drapery business in
Paisley. Success was not only due to a good location. In the 1850’s there was a very competitive retail market. There was
Daly & Sons Ltd, Buchanan & Co, Wylie & Lochhead, Arnott_Simpson. All these companies were vying for business. Fraser & Arthur
Were going for a different market. They were going for a quick turnover of stock, cash and low profit margins.
Arthur & Fraser quickly expanded the business and established a wholesale trade in adjoining premises in Argyle Street.
In 1856 the wholesale business moved to a larger site in Miller Street, and it became a separate part of the company, being given
the name Arthur & Co. Meanwhile the retail side of the business expanded into the vacant buildings left by the moving of the
wholesale side. In 1865 tensions began to surface between Fraser & Arthur and the partnership was dissolved. Fraser assumed
control of the retail business while Arthur took control of the wholesale business.
The magnificent present day central hall of Frasers was part of the original Wyllie & Lochhead shop. They originally started trading
In 1829 as feather merchants and funeral organisers. The present day, central hall was opened by Wyllie & Lochhead in 1855.
For several weeks they didn’t open properly and operated a ticket only entry system. The Glasgow Herald newspaper reported that
it had 200 gas lights, a steam powered lift, and, if you got lost there were 500 shop workers to attend to your needs.
Wyllie & Lochhead had a run of bad luck when there were two fires, one in 1857 and another in 1883. The store was rebuilt
using fire proof materials and was now four stories high with a glass roof. This is the store that you see today.
Wyllie & Lochhead were a really significan shop in Glasgow shop history. They embraced the Glasgow style – the city has style
and is the second city in the UK, after London. They didn’t put all their eggs in one basket. Apart from selling bed and table linen,
upholstering, feathers, carpets, floor cloths and furniture from 43-47 Buchanan Street. They had undertaking and post-horse hiring
at Kent Road and Whiteinch stables, cabinetmaking and paper staining, also at Kent Road and upholdtering, carving and gilding
at Mitchell Street.
In the 1870’s John Wyllie expanded again and secured contracts for ship and yacht interiors, gaining a really good reputation.
Ships such as the Lucitania, Apitania, Queen Mary and Empress of Japan were fitted with Wyllie & Lochhead cabinets and furniture,
along with carpets from Templeton Carpet Factory, Glasgow.
One of the most interesting aspects of the Wyllie & Lochhead Company is their funeral undertaking, which has provided 180 years
of continuous service to this day. A complete service was offered, hearse, coffin, funeral and wake, operating from their premises
on Kent Road. One of the reasons that they were one of the major players in Glasgow, was that during the 1830’s outbreak of
Asiatic Flu they were willing to handle bodies that other companies wouldn’t touch.
The funeral order books from 1837 to 1965 that we keep in the archives are very popular with people doing genealogy. We get
calls to look up people’s ancestors. We all give a sigh to these requests, the books are huge and require two of us to lift one. You need
two books to cross reference with. I do enjoy when people request them out as they are exactly the sort of books that you imagine
Bob Cratchit from A Christmas Carol writing in. Some ledgers are in code because they were made available for the public to look at
And Wyllie & Lochhead didn’t want their customers or competition to know how much had been charged or paid. The ledgers state
name of deceased, who paid for the funeral, address, coffin sizes, shroud: wine and biscuits, stationery, number of bearers, hearses,
coaches, noddies (type of carriage), driver, ushers, attendants who were sometimes hired, location of grave; date and time of burial.
Stewart & McDonald were in the other part of the current House of Fraser building in Buchanan Street. Wyllie & Lochhead only
occupied the central hall. Stewart & McDonald were founded in 1826 when they opened a small wholesale drapery warehouse.
The original premises consisted of a room in a rented tenement on the first floor of 5 Buchanan Street. What started off as a small
business, had by the 1860’s a 1 million pound turnover, the equivalent of 43 million in today’s money.
Today, the House of Fraser Group has a 1.1 billion pound turnover. Stewart & McDonald had branches in Glasgow, Edinburgh,
London, Liverpool, Rochdale, Manchester, Birmingham, Hull, Belfast, Dublin, Montreal, Toronto, Melbourne, Sydney and Port
Elizabeth. It was a high-end department store and had been voted Glasgow’s second most fashionable store. Both fashionable and
elegant, it sold quality products and provided an excellent service. Additional services were developed in the form of personal shoppers,
restaurant, coffee lounge, hairdressing salon, dressing rooms, bathrooms. These additional services helped the growth of department
stores and women could or were allowed to go shopping on their own now.
The Christmas brochure from 1917 shows that at the top of people’s lists were lengths of cloth, gloves, cushions, lampshades, perfume,
fancy scarves, hosiery, jewellery, furs and Japanese art (really influential at this time). It was very much a ladies fashion store.
Lots of the old catalogues feature ladies wearing furs, it was a huge trend then and well before it became unfashionable to wear real
Fur. Some of the larger stores also offered fur storage facilities, this kept them at the ideal temperature.
Presents for soldiers and sailors – Army & Navy Stores, once one of the most well known brands of the House of Fraser Groupl.
It was established in 1871 by a group of arm and navy officers for the supply of articles of domestic consumption and general use
to its members at the lowest prices. It was based in Victoria Street, Westminster but had branches in New York, Bombay, Karachi,
New Dehli, Ranchi, Paris, North Africa and various places all over the UK.
It had an important part to play with the expats, it had over 10,000 price lists and was like an early addition of an Argos Catalogue.
A catalogue from 1925 shows many varied items. Decorating tools, soft furnishings, soft toys, games, puzzles, sporting equipment
And stranger items such as sporting trophies, Ostrich and Emu eggs mounted as sugar. Send your cat and they would stuff it for you.
You could hire entertainers for garden parties, river excursions. Masonic halls, at your home. They did absolutely everything, even
your wedding cake.
The old catalogues are also a great insight into the late 19th and early 20th century hobbies etc. Lots of gun sales, revolvers and
pistols were sold. Army & Navy kept a register of guns sold. Current collectors call us at the Archive services at least twice a day
to find out how much a gun was sold for and the original owners name.
In Glasgow we had our own version of Army & Navy. It was called Dallas’s and its original location was in Cowcaddens in the late
19th century. It had an extensive mail order business stretching across the British Empire. There were catalogues with measurements
for self-measuring in order to get the correct fit of clothes. There was a note to ladies inviting them to come to the store and see all
the wonderful items in stock. Highly emotive and playing on Glasgow being the second city of the Empire.
The Christmas catalogue from Dallas’s in the early 20th century shows the top sellers as being, bed socks, toys, model motor cars,
Ladies fashions, childrenswear and handkerchiefs.
How does this all fit into House of Fraser Group.
For the first 70 years under Hugh 1 and Hugh 2 House of Fraser established itself and grew over these 70 years. It was hard work
to survive, including the failing of The City of Glasgow Bank in 1878.
Hugh 3 started work in Frasers in the 1920’s at the age of 18. Three years later he became Managing Director and Chairman aged
27. It was Hugh 3 that began to expand beyond Glasgow. He opened up new departments, tea rooms in a time of great economic
uncertainty. It was as we were about to enter the Great Depression. Hugh 3 invested in his company, he built a fantastic new store
which now takes up where Footlocker and Zara are. His other tactic was to take over stores like Robert Simpsons & Sons, Binns Group
etc. Over a period of 50 years there were approx 70 store acquisitions. House of Fraser Group took them over but let them keep their
own local identity.
This strategy changed in the 20th century when Hugh 4, Lord Fraser of Allander took over. Under his management the House of
Fraser Group expanded internationally. They also took over Dickons & Jones, Wm Henderson & Sons, Binns and Harrods.
Harrods was owned by the House of Fraser Group from1959 until 1985 when Harrods was purchased by the Al Fayed family.
We are very pleased that the House of Frasers company archive is based with us in Glasgow, where the company has its roots
even if a vast amount of their staff are in London.
At the University of Glasgow Archives Services which houses collections of family and local businesses we have approx 5000
enquiries per year. We have over 3 miles of archive and house one of the largest collections of historical business records in
Europe. You can find further information on www.gla.ac.uk/services/archives/
So that’s the House of Fraser archive.
Q You said Dallas’s were great. They had red Santas in the Dallas’s catalogue. I thought that Coca-Cola made Santa red?
A I’m not sure but Santa was shown long before the Coca Cola adverts wearing a red suit.
Q You have a very broad spectrum of archival material. I found some copies of Urgoras and wondered it the University Archives
would be interested in them. Or should I just throw them out?
A If you would like to hand them into us at Thurso Street. We would love to have a look at them.
Q Were Lewis’s on Argyle Street part of the House of Fraser Group?
A No, Lewis’s weren’t part of the group. They were at one point part of the Sears Group.
Q Were Copeland & Lye part of the company or did the company take over their premises at some point?
A House of Fraser Group acquired the site of Copeland & Lye after a fire there as Copeland & Lye didn’t have the resources to
rebuild but House of Fraser did.
Q Was there ever a food hall in Frasers. My wife remembers a food hall but where was it?
A Yes, there was a food hall but we’re not sure where it was. There is conflicting information as to where it was.
Q What were the maximum number of employees in the store?
A We don’t have much on staff records for the store.
Q Were ladies employed in the store?
Q Dallas’s had a ménage. Did Frasers have a ménage?
A In the beginning Frasers were cash only but as time went on and in order to attract new custom then credit was introduced.
Q Who did Hugh Fraser 4 marry? Was it somebody from Castlebank laundry?
A If you look online at the catalogues it will give a small amount of personal information. www.gla.ac.u/services/archives/
Q Is there still a Hugh Fraser?
A Not sure. Young Hugh, Hugh 4 was in charge until 1980’s. House of Fraser Group has not been in the family since 198’s.
Vote of Thanks
President Alison, fellow members and friends, ladies and gentlemen.
Join me now in a hearty vote of appreciation to our honoured guest speaker, Clare, on this, her return visit, for a fascinating insight
to the archives of this very old establishes and very familiar Glasgow company.
Clare has taken us on a wonderful “journey through time”, back to 1849 – and the company’s early days on the east side of
Buchanan Street: and, later, to the west side in 1931 – with such names as Wyllie and Lochhead, Stewart & McDonalds, the Army &
Navy Stores, the wonderful Dallas’s of Cowcaddens……., and Simpsons in 1936 – and has brought it all “to life” for us, in a
humorous way, this evening.
We have also had a “taste” for changing fashions – and cultures – including the change in shopping patterns from Trongate to
Buchanan Street, not forgetting the 1916 Festive Touch, of course, and Dallas’s Santa, with a touch of the archive too; and all
courtesy of Clare, tonight.
Clare, it gives me very great pleasure to present you with Club membership, as a token of our thanks. Thank you very much indeed.
Brian D Henderson
Next Directors Meeting – 17th January 2013
Next Ordinary Meeting – 10th January 2013
Ms Sannachan wished us all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, when it comes, on behalf of herself and the Directors.
Shona Crozer, Director