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Modern Times: 1950s to The Present Day

Industry and Technology

Consumer Goods

By W Hamish Fraser

Success in attracting light engineering to the city has been limited. Consumer industries have tended to concentrate near the larger markets of the Midlands and South East of England. The last remnants of the once great cotton industry disappeared in the 1950s. Carpet firms, such as Templetons, were successful in the 1950s producing the popular "Kosset" tufted carpet, but by the end of the 1960s they had been swallowed up by larger concerns and their Glasgow works closed.

Government pressure forced Rootes to open a new car plant at Linwood in 1963 to produce the Hillman Imp. A record of industrial disputes, poor management, dated design and locational disadvantage made its existence very precarious and it was closed in 1981. At Clydebank the century-old Singer Sewing Machine Co was failing to compete with low-priced, sophisticated machines from Japan and it closed in 1980. Hoover, which had been at Cambuslang since 1946 producing electric motors, began to assemble vacuum cleaners in 1963, but soon it was facing fierce competition from Italian imports and accumulating huge losses. From the early 1980s there were sharp cutbacks.

The Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society merged with the Co-operative Wholesale Society in 1973 and the works at Shieldhall shrank and eventually closed. The Glaswegians' traditional sweet tooth helped in some areas. At Hillington, the biscuit manufacturer William Macdonald gave the world "Penguin", "Munchmallow", "Yo-Yo" and "Bandit" biscuits in the 1940s and 1950s before becoming part of the large United Biscuits conglomerate.

Tennent Caledonian's Wellpark Brewery in Duke Street and Matthew Algie's coffee and tea firm in the Gorbals continue to slake the city's thirst. Another counter to decline has been Soapworks Ltd in Easterhouse, established by Anita and Gordon Roddick of Bodyshop in 1988. It has continued to grow. A few software companies have tried to find a footing in the computer market, but the growth of "Silicon Glen" has largely passed Glasgow by. In Glasgow, as elsewhere, consumer goods are mainly imports.

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