James Henderson & Co.

James Henderson & Co., Coach Builders, 60, 62, and 64, North Street.—

    Among the important industries which have won for Glasgow the proud position it enjoys as one of the foremost manufacturing cities in the world is that of coach-building, and in connection therewith it is a pleasure to make prominent mention of a firm in town which has competed successfully in the international exhibitions of the world with the foremost London and Parisian builders. We refer to the celebrated firm, of James Henderson & Co., whose extensive works are situated at 60, 62, and 64, North Street, and also branch showrooms at the comer of Bothwell Circus, and St. Vincent Street.

    This business was established in 1838, fifty years ago, by the late James Henderson, who may truly be named the pioneer of scientific and artistic coach-building in Scotland. Since Mr. Henderson’s decease the business has continued to extend its fame under the able management of his two sons, Messrs. A. R. and Alexander Henderson, who are the present proprietors. Following the course leading to perfection as coach builders pointed out by the founder, the present members of the firm underwent a long and tedious course of training of a scientific and practical nature. Mr. A. R. Henderson, the senior partner in the firm, who is reputed to be one of the most artistic coach builders and one of the best judges of the tout ensemble of a carriage in the trade, owes his renown to his genius as an artist, and to his long and thoroughly practical training as a coach builder and physicist.

    After serving his apprenticeship to the trade In Glasgow, he went to London and worked at the bench in one of the foremost builder’s works. Leaving this firm he, for further insight and experience, joined another coach builder of equal fame, and having acquired a knowledge of every detail in the make of London-built vehicles, he went to Paris, and assume the practical management of the business in Glasgow. Being exhibitors in the Paris Exhibition of 1878, Mr. Henderson went there to represent the firm, and during the eight months of his stay spent a large part of his time as a pupil of Albert Dupont.  His proficiency as an artist enabled him while there and in Paris, to sketch every detail of importance in connection with the Parisian machines.

    Mr. Alexander Henderson, the junior member of the firm, after having served his apprenticeship in one of the largest mercantile houses in London and Glasgow, entered himself as an apprentice coach builder in one of the oldest established and most famous houses in London. While working vigorously in each of the departments of this firm’s coach-building works during the day, he was in the evening attending the principal classes in the Technical School, and obtained a first-class certificate (honours grade) in the technical examinations.

    After having acquired a thorough practical knowledge, in every department, of coach-building as carried on in the foremost London works, he joined his brother in Glasgow, to complete the work of perfecting the building of these beautiful vehicles. To carry out and improve upon the best ideas obtained by the one brother while in London, and the other in Paris, was the work of years ; and that they have improved, is evinced in the fact that their machines are now ordered from and sent to all parts of the world. But even before Messrs. Henderson took advantage of their experiences in London and Paris, their own machines, designed in every detail by Mr. A. R. Henderson, carried away the prize silver medal with diploma from the Universal Exhibition held in Paris in 1878. The jury at this exhibition consisted of coach builders of the highest repute in the nations represented. This, and the fact that H.R.H. the Prince of Wales patronized the splendid exhibits of the firm, shows that even at that time they were in the front ranks of the coach building trade in Europe.

    And, to come to the present time, it is commonly acknowledged by the highest authorities that Messrs. Henderson’s carriages exhibit conspicuously a combination of the English stability with the French finish — a remark which was also made by one of her Majesty’s coach builders. Acknowledgments of this kind by well-qualified judges, and the fact that Messrs. Henderson at the present day carry away the highest honours from home and foreign exhibitions, shows that these gentlemen are accomplished and well-known carriage builders, and have profited by their experience in London and Paris.

    The juror’s award at Edinburgh Exhibition in 1886 was “for good style and general excellence in coach building” ; and that at Adelaide Royal Jubilee Exhibition, last year, was highest award, first order of merit, first-class diploma and medal, also special recommendation from the judges. Limited space prevents our describing the many mechanical inventions and improvements made by this firm in connection with those beautiful machines exhibited in their handsome showrooms, and the great International Exhibitions, including their celebrated Elysian brougham, which suits for summer or winter ; their Elysian steel-mounted brougham and landau on bow springs and noiseless india-rubber tyres ; “Elysian” miniature brougham, C and under-spring Victoria, steel built ; gentlemen’s private bus for pair horse or four-in-hand, &c. ; carriages supplied to the highest families in the three kingdoms. Nor is there space to describe their vast works, which in every department are equipped with the most approved machinery, and where about one hundred workmen are employed. The trade of the firm extends to the best families at home, and to every quarter of the globe, and is necessarily with the nobility and gentry at home.

    The individual members of the firm are well-known gentlemen, Mr. Alexander Henderson being a honorary member of the St. Mark’s Technical College, London, a member of the council of the Institute of British Carriage Manufacturers, and local secretary for the Master Coach Builders’ Benevolent Institution. He is also a certificated teacher of coach building in connection with the City and Guilds of London Institute. He also takes a prominent part in all trade matters, and in agitations having for their object the repeal of the carriage tax, as advocated by the Scottish Association, of which he is a highly esteemed member.

    Mr. A. R. Henderson, the senior partner, is well known in art circles. He is a member of the Art Club and a life member of the Institute of the Fine Arts. His own works have also been exhibited in the Royal Scottish Academy and the Glasgow Exhibition for many years ; and as a lover of art he possesses one of the finest and most select collections of pictures for quality in Glasgow. Several have been loaned, by request, to the International Exhibition.

    Doubtless, the unique position in the trade held by this old-established firm is due, in a great measure, to the foresight which led the present members to be trained thoroughly at home and afterwards in London and Paris, and to their practical skill and mechanical and artistic genius. The founder of the firm, Mr. James Henderson, was the inventor of the dome for the bus, and also of the foot-lever drag, as well as the bells for busses, &c. Many foremen at other establishments, and masters throughout the country, have gained their entire experience at Henderson’s coach factory. It is a valuable recommendation to have served with this famous firm of coachbuilders.

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