John Robertson

John Robertson, Coach Builder, 412 to 424, St. Vincent Street. —

    Among those notable Glasgow ‘business' houses whose present marked degree of industrial or commercial prosperity stands not only as evidence of past energy, activity, and honourable method, but also as a promise of augmented future success and enhanced reputation in days to come, that of Mr. John Robertson, the well-known coach-builder in St. Vincent Street, holds a place of high prominence and real distinction.

    This representative business was founded in Bothwell Street, in 1857, by Mr. John Robertson, the present senior of the firm, who is the doyen of the Glasgow coach-building fraternity. Four years subsequent to its establishment the business was transferred to its present commodious quarters. The St. Vincent Street premises are certainly not surpassed by any other Glasgovian establishment of their kind, either in eligibility of position or convenience of arrangement and accommodation. They comprise a large, fine-looking building with a ground area of upwards of 4,250 feet (superficial), contain three spacious floors and a basement, and have a capital frontage to the principal thoroughfare, with an entrance to the works at 21, Dorset Street. The ground floor constitutes the principal showroom; the upper flats are all devoted to the purposes of the manufacture, and the basement is used as an exhibition-room for the heavier classes of vehicles produced. Upwards of seventy hands find regular and constant employment in the firm’s spacious workshops, and it would be difficult indeed to name an establishment anywhere in which the thoroughness of skilled manual labour is more amply supplemented by the rapid efficacy of improved and ingenious mechanical apparatus. It is exceedingly interesting, pleasing, and no less instructive to note the careful attention paid to every minute detail of the extensive manufacture carried on here.

    Mr. Robertson it is manifest has long been a staunch believer in the seemingly paradoxical but eminently true ‘greatness of little things”; and with him nothing is so insignificant as to possess no claim to consideration when its nature and character are calculated to bear any relation to the worth and merit of his work. The house is this year displaying considerable enterprise in the opening of another show-room a little farther east in St. Vincent Street, this step being justified by anticipations of a large increase in trade as a result of the Glasgow International Exhibition. Mr. Robertson is a large exhibitor at this, and shows many novelties in coach-building and carriage-making science, patent and otherwise, which have not as yet been made public.

    The inventive faculty and constant spirit of progress of this popular and thoroughly representative Glasgovian coach-builder are continually being made apparent in some notable form, and their outcome is never other than a benefit and a distinct step forward. Mr. Robertson is the inventor of the new Cee and elliptic spring for wheeled vehicles, which he has just patented, and which has already met with such high approval that it bids fair ere long to well-nigh Supersede even the excellent proved class of carriage springs now in use. This spring represents one of Mr. Robertson’s greatest achievements, and is certainly most creditable to the vigorous energy of a mind that loses nothing of its conceptive powers with the advance of years.

    Mr. Robertson has added many a notable item to the long list of vehicular specialities which has made the British coach-building industry one of the most comprehensively prolific in the world. Space forbids the detail which these justly deserve, and we have only room to allude to the Aesthetic and Medium Aesthetic Brougham, and the Royal Dane Victoria as perfect models of graceful form and beauty of finish ; and to the Gondola Square Landau (patented in July, 1885|, which is one of the newest, most original, and most tasteful designs in that class of carriage now before the public.

    It is also only fair to refer to Mr. Robertson’s admirably prepared books and sheets of designs, the plates in which are of singularly excellent character, and to cordially recommend these to the attention they certainly merit. It is worth noting that Mr. Robertson has quite recently received from a customer in California a specimen of wood for wheel making, said to be superior to any British wood for that purpose, and warranted to stand the severe strain of our most amazing climate in the most satisfactory manner. The house will shortly put this material to a thoroughly practical test.

    Mr. Robertson is a regular exhibitor at all the leading agricultural and local shows throughout the country, and for the last twenty-five years has invariably carried off honours of the highest order. His medallic awards in this respect have been far too numerous for complete mention here ; but it is notable in an especial degree that his house won the gold medal (highest award) at the International Exhibition, Edinburgh, 1886, for "good style, careful construction, and high finish”.

    Such distinction as these stand as the best possible evidence of the excellent character of the work turned out in St. Vincent Street. Mr. Robertson's carriages go to all parts of the world, and his patrons are numbered among the most distinguished members of the aristocracy of this and other countries. Mr. Robertson is Vice-President of the Institute of British Carriage Manufactures, London, an organisation which will hold a meeting of discussion in Glasgow during exhibition time ; and he is also chairman of the National Scottish Association for the Repeal of the Carriage Tax. It speaks sufficiently for his many estimable personal qualities that all his successes in the industry he so creditably exemplifies have tended only to deepen the respect and esteem in which, as a man, a citizen, and a craftsman he is held by his confrčres in the trade.

    The house we have herein briefly and superficially sketched is, in fine, one of the most notable and famous in its line in North Britain ; and the manner and principles of its present administration offer a strong assurance that the eminent position it now worthily holds will be amply sustained and strengthened in time to come.

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