Company name: Wylie & Lochhead
Dates in business: 1829-1883
Type of business: cabinet makers and funeral undertakers
Type of company: PartnershipLocations:
Management of company
The original partners were Robert Wylie and William Lochhead. In March 1843, Wylie's son-in-law, Archibald Hill, was admitted as a partner. Lochhead did not favour the idea and this led to a long-term disagreement between the partners. Hill did not remain a partner for long.
In 1864, due to the poor health of Robert Wylie and the death of William Lochhead's son, the partnership was dissolved. Robert Downie Wylie and John Wylie, sons of Robert Wylie, who were already effectively managing the business, took over the firm, continuing to trade as Wylie & Lochhead. The proceeds of the sale were divided between Robert Wylie and William Lochhead in a proportion of three to two. Robert Wylie retired entirely but William Lochhead continued to retain an interest and the managing partners were obliged to seek his sanction in such matters as alterations to the building. Robert Downie Wylie died in June 1866 leaving John Wylie in sole charge of the concern. Robert Wylie, the founder, died a few months later in 1866.
Robert Wylie and William Lochhead were related through marriage. Robert Wylie, a feather and hair merchant in Glasgow, Scotland, had married Margaret Downie in 1824. The following year Margaret's sister, Jane Downie, had married William Lochhead, who was a partner in his father's undertaking and cabinet making business. In 1827, Margaret and Jane's mother died leaving her property in Saltmarket and Bell Street, Glasgow, to her daughters under the charge of William Lochhead. In September 1829, William Lochhead left his father's business to join Robert Wylie in partnership. They traded as feather merchants in Trongate, Glasgow. Lochhead immediately set up a complete funeral undertaking business ranging from the provision of coffins and hearses to mourning stationery and catering. The cholera epidemic of 1832 proved lucrative for the partners, enabling them to expand rapidly and diversify into other areas. By 1837, they were operating a suburban omnibus service to Rutherglen in Glasgow and the Townhead railway depot, hiring post horses and selling paperhangings, upholstery and furnishings.
In 1844, the partners' premises in Trongate were destroyed by fire. Temporary premises were found for the omnibus and undertaking departments at 171 Argyle Street and for the carpet and upholstering departments at 169 Argyle Street. In May 1845, a new warehouse at 28 Argyle Street was opened, to which several of the retail departments were moved. In February 1846, the partners also leased the Eagle Hotel and stables in Maxwell Street to house the post-hiring and undertaking business, letting out the hotel itself as a separate concern. The omnibus service was temporarily abandoned due to the escalating price of corn. In May 1846, the remainder of the retail departments were accommodated in Argyle Street which was itself extended in 1848 by the acquisition of the adjoining National Bank property in Virginia Street. Trade grew steadily, and in December 1853 new premises were acquired in Kent Road to house the undertaking and carriage hiring businesses. In 1854, the partners moved the retail business to Buchanan Street, Glasgow and started paperstaining at Kent Road. In 1855, they erected a large building in Union Street to house the undertaking department. Also in the 1850s, they started manufacturing their own wallpapers and, in 1862, opened their own paperstaining factory in Whiteinch, Glasgow.
By 1862, the firm was extensive, offering a wide range of departments and services: upholstering, bed and table linen, feathers, carpets and floor cloths and paperhangings at 43-47 Buchanan Street, Glasgow; undertaking and post-horse hiring at Kent Road and Whiteinch stables, Glasgow; cabinetmaking and paper staining also at Kent Road; and upholstering, carving and gilding at Mitchell Street, Glasgow. The omnibus service was abandoned during the 1860s due to keen rivalry with other businesses.
In August 1867, a major fire broke out in Buchanan Street completely destroying the Mitchell Street wing of the warehouse. The business, however, continued to grow and an office was opened in London in Cannon Street in the late 1860s. In 1874, the Buchanan Street premises were extended. Also during the 1870s, the firm began to furnish ship and yacht interiors, catering for the busy shipyards developing along the Clyde.
In August 1883, the business was floated as a private limited company, Wylie & Lochhead Ltd.
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