Kelso & Co.

Messrs. Kelso & Co., Opticians, Electricians, and Model Makers, 2, Commerce Street, S.S.

           The well-known and representative house named above was founded in 1874 in Jamaica Street, Glasgow, by Mr. Matthew Glen Kelso, the present principal, and has from the first been successfully carried on under the style of Kelso & Co. Four years ago the business was transferred to its present eligible premises in Commerce Street.

    These comprise a large and commodious flat in a substantial building at the corner of Commerce Street and Clyde Place, and are used for counting-house, showroom, and stockroom purposes. The stock held here is extensive and valuable, and embraces clocks, chronometers, engine counters, gauges, high-range and super-heat thermometers, German silver and glass salmometers, and a great variety of optical goods and fittings for electrical apparatus. The firm also stock a quantity of requisites for ships in optical and electrical matters, and hold a large assortment of minute parts of ship models, used in their important undertakings as model-makers. This latter branch is a distinct speciality of the house, and in connection with it some exceedingly fine work of beautiful character and finish.

    The whole business of the firm is of the most interesting class in nature and result, and is remarkably self-contained, all the work in connection therewith being executed on the premises, down even to the smallest item or part of some of the apparatus and other articles produced. The workshops for this purpose are situate on the top floors of the building occupied. They are spacious, airy, and well-lighted, equipped with numerous lathes and other special mechanical appliances, and employ a staff of about thirty skilled and experienced opticians, electricians, and technical craftsmen.

    Among the host of curious and interesting miniature fittings for models held in stock by the firm are noticeable some exceedingly intricate and unique pieces of ordnance of tiny size, and these, in common with all other requisites are reproduced from originals with the utmost nicety and fidelity. The models themselves, and the parts thereof, are polished, electroplated, or bronzed, as the case may be, by the firmís own assistants, and are, in fact, entirely completed on the premises.

    One model, recently completed by the house, is that of an extra-large steam tug (230 feet long in the original), built at Port Glasgow. She has two funnels and an awning the whole length of the upper deck, and possesses an extra arrangement of hauling gear, as if designed to work in a river where rapids existed. The whole minutiae of her equipment has been most admirably reproduced in the model, of which Messrs. Kelso do the metal part and fittings, including the rigging, the shipbuilders doing the woodwork. In most cases these models are made from working drawings of the actual vessel, and are usually produced to the scale of 1/8, 1/4, or 3/8 of an inch to the foot. The firm enjoy a most eminent reputation in this highly interesting department.

    The trade controlled in connection with such work lies principally amongst the shipbuilders in Britain, but the firm have also executed several important orders for various continental Governments and foreign powers. At present they are largely engaged in the preparation of parts of models to be shown at the Glasgow Exhibition.

    Another special feature of the house consists in fitting ships, mansions, offices, &c., with complete systems of electric or pneumatic bells, and in this well-developed department a large business is done. They are also patentees of several important and valuable mechanical devices, and make a point of working out new ideas for inventors and preparing models for patent. In this they are extensively employed.

    Mr. Kelso is at present busily occupied with a new idea of his own, a machine which will prove quite invaluable as an automatic recorder of the time of opening and closing any establishment or premises. A lever records on paper (already marked with hours and minutes) the exact time of the original opening and final closing of the door of the place. This apparatus would seem to have a great future ahead of it, and its accuracy of operation and general reliability will doubtless be such as are characteristic of all the favourite and highly esteemed productions of this well-reputed house.

    The firm are now engaged in making for the Italian Government a dynamometer for experimenting on the resistance of models of ships, consisting of dynamometer, strophometer, trim cylinders, and electric clock recorder, somewhat similar to the one originated by Mr. Froude, and now used by H.M. Government, and also one used by Messrs. Denny & Co., Dumbarton, the scientific parts of which were supplied by Messrs. Kelso and are believed to be the only two in existence.

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