Singer Factory Bridgeton
Singer Factory, Bridgeton, Glasgow, was located at the corner of Landressy Street and James Street in the east end of the city.
The American sewing machine firm Singer Manufacturing Co opened an office in Glasgow in 1856. The huge demand for their product encouraged them to set up a workshop to assemble sewing machines near George Square in 1867 and then to build a factory in James Street, Bridgeton, in the 1870s. In 1884 Singer relocated to a factory at Kilbowie near Clydebank which was greatly extended over the years and had become the largest factory in Europe by the early 1900s.
Singer's first Scottish factory had been established at 1 Love Loan in High John Street, Glasgow, where parts imported from the United States were assembled.
A work force of about 30 was employed, and assembled around 100 machines in the first month.
By mid-October, 1867, the first two sewing machines had been completed. By the third week in November there were 95 finished machines. For a total of 31 men and boys, plus a woman to test-and-try the finished machines, the payroll was all of £31 a week.
Production just could not keep up with demand. New premises were needed. They were found in James Street, Bridgeton, Glasgow, in a large four-storey factory, where new equipment was installed in 1869. Output rose to 1000 machines a week in the year: and was at 1500 a week by 1876.
"The Singer factory at Bridgeton," the trade journal "Engineering" reported, "is now the largest sewing machine factory in the United Kingdom."
Machines from Glasgow went throughout the British Isles, to the Empire, to Europe, and to parts of Latin America. There was a home sales force of more than 2000, with 4000 on the Continent. When convenient hire-purchase was introduced in the 1870's (sic) to an eager public, demand went up even higher than ever. In 10 years there was, it is reported, "hardly standing room for the 2500 workmen."
A letter in the Glasgow Herald of January 9, 1979, states that the Bridgeton factory was initially set up to produce 600 machines per week, and after 10 years was producing 5000 per week - and still could not meet demand.
Bridgeton was the first site outside the United States where the company produced complete machines, and operated from 1869 until 1884, when Singer opened its more well known factory in Clydebank.
The James Street factory building was begun in August 1872, finished the following year and had an output of 600 machines a week, rising to 5,151 a week by the time the breaking of the ground of the Kilbowie factory. The japanning works were at Bonnybridge and cabinet works across the Clyde in Govan Street.
The James Street building was eventually demolished to make way for a small housing estate, leaving no evidence of its existence.
1 ⇑ Centenary for Clydebank. The Glasgow Herald. Tuesday, October 24, 1967. Retrieved August 29, 2013.
3 ⇑ Locations - Singer Factory, 116 James Street, Bridgeton, Glasgow - NeedleBar Picture Library Archive Retrieved August 29, 2013.
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