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Second City of The Empire: 1830s to 1914

Industry and Technology

Food, Drink and Tobacco

By Ian Donnachie

Bunhouse Mill The rapid rise in the city population from 200,000 to over 1,000,000 during this period generated an enormous growth in demand and increased processing of food, drink and tobacco resulting in greater mass production and the growth of retail outlets. At the time of the 1891 Census factories engaged in processing included twenty-one flour and grain millers, sixty-three bread and biscuit bakers, ten preserve makers, thirty-five aerated water makers, twenty tobacco manufacturers, as well as twelve breweries and several large distilleries. The city, reflecting its status as Workshop of the Empire in heavy industry, had also become a major market and manufacturing centre for food products from Scotland and overseas.

Bottling department In the drink trades brewing expanded rapidly. The largest and most important firm, J & R Tennent, was one of the pioneers of lager production. This began in 1885 under the innovative Hugh Tennent who hired German engineers to build a new lager brewery, completed in 1891. As consumer taste switched from dark, heavy ales to light, bright beers and lagers, Tennent launched what became its most famous product and the one on which to a large extent the company's reputation still rests. Distilling also grew, the Port Dundas plant being one of the largest in the country. Glasgow also became a major centre of blending and bottling.

SCWS piece box There was a consequent growth in retailing. The 1850s and 1860s represented the great period of co-operative society formation and Glasgow became the headquarters of the Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society, formed in 1868. Thomas Lipton opened his first "Lipton Market" in Glasgow in 1871, selling dairy products and hams, buying in bulk and cutting out middlemen to maximise his returns and pass on cheaper prices to customers. He later expanded into tea, coffee and cocoa, supplied from his own plantations in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). By 1898 Lipton's business was worth £2.5 million and his name had become a household word.

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