A. & R. Scott (Limited)

Messrs. A. & R. Scott (Limited), Sole Makers of Scott’s Midlothian Oat-flour Biscuits and Improved Oat Cakes.—

“ Hear, land o’ cakes and brither Scots,
Frae Maidenkirk to Johnny Groats’,
If there’s a hole in a’ your coats,
I rede you tent it;
A chield’s amang you takin’ notes,
An’ faith, he’ll prent it.”

           It was thus that Scotland’s great patriotic bard apostrophised his country and his countrymen.. And patriotic Scotchmen ever since have been proud to speak of their native country as the “land o’cakes.” But the introduction of railways, fast sailing ships, and other marks of general progress, have been the means of importing into Scotland manners and practices, some better and some worse than those originally prevailing, and one of the importations, which was a decided loss to Scotland, was that of the use of bread made from fine white wheaten flour, to usurp the place of Scotland’s native and more wholesome and substantial oat cakes. It is our pleasing duty to  "take notes", an’ faith we'll prent them, of a Scotch firm of high standing in the milling industry that has had the courage, at great risk and expense, to espouse the cause of Scotland in this matter in a very practical and telling manner.

           We refer to the firm of Messrs. A. and R. Scott (Limited), Glasgow, sole makers of Scott’s Midlothian oat-flour biscuits, and improved oat cakes. With the progress of chemical and medical and physiological science, and the too evident decline of physical strength and endurance in each succeeding generation, especially of town-bred Scotchmen and Scotch women—for in justice to the Scotch peasantry, it must be mentioned, that in many parts of the country, especially among the agricultural population, the good old simple habits of subsistence on Scotch oatmeal (in the form of porridge and cakes), potatoes, milk, and vegetables, prevalent in the time of Burns, have not been in any essential degree departed from—professional men were led to make zealous enquiry into the cause or causes of this deplorable result, and with almost universal consent they have declared that to return to the good old practice of using oatmeal porridge as a breakfast, and to the use of oatmeal cakes or whole wheatmeal bread in the course of the day, was essential to the healthy, vigorous development of the young of both sexes in a Scotch climate.

           The nation has been agitated on the question, lectures on the subject have been delivered by men of high professional rank in all the principal towns in the kingdom, books and pamphlets have been written on the matter, in the newspapers paragraphs have appeared from time to time, until the doctrine has become the possession of all classes in all parts of the British Empire. But the first sound of a wholesome doctrine does not usually overcome the deep-seated influences of habit and prejudice. Gradually, however, the article described by Dr. Johnson as “ food for horses in England and for men in Scotland,” got introduced into London and other leading English towns and cities (although in small quantities), and again also in Scotland its use has become more general in those places where it had almost entirely disappeared. But in nearly all the larger towns and cities of Scotland, not to mention England, there is still a lamentable absence of any attempt at the home preparation of any kind of oaten bread, the majority of the town-bred population not even seeming to have any thought of such a thing.

         In these circumstances the bold but effective step taken by Messrs. A. & R. Scott in the introduction of their improved Midlothian oat cakes cannot be too highly commended, insomuch as they undertook the responsibility of, in a very large measure, creating the demand for this invaluable article of diet. In this they have succeeded admirably, but this is in large measure due to especial excellence of the article they have introduced. One of the chief objections to the general use of oatmeal in its ordinary form is that it is “heating” and irritating to the delicate stomach and bowels. Messrs. A. & R. Scott have, however, entirely overcome this difficulty by introducing their now far-famed Midlothian oat-flour (Midlothian is acknowledged to be the best grain-producing county in Scotland). This is prepared by a special process of milling whereby the outer or woody fibres of the grain, present in the ordinary oatmeal, is entirely eliminated, and the finer portion of the grain thus dressed is ground to the consistency of a flour, as the term “oat-flour ” plainly indicates. Thus while the most nutritious portion of the grain is retained the flour being finer in texture is free from the irritating properties of the oatmeal, and is also very much easier digested and assimilated, and for this obvious reason it has already become a very popular food for infants and invalids. It is fast superseding other special and perhaps more questionable preparations in hydropathic establishments and hospitals throughout the kingdom.

            Dr. Wm. Wallace, public analyst of the city of Glasgow, and Dr. Bartlett, of London, have both analysed samples of Scott’s Midlothian oat-flour, and they declare that it contains more of flesh and bone-forming properties than the finest oatmeal. Strong testimony in its favour has also been received from other high authorities by the manufacturers. In addition to the oat cakes already mentioned as being so popular, the Messrs. Scott have introduced oat biscuits, which they also manufacture from this flour. Both the biscuits and cakes are very palatable, as well as wholesome and nutritious, and their more general use is only a question of time. For these specialities no fewer than eight first-class awards have been received at recent exhibitions, and the manufacturers have at present on their books a current fortnightly order from no less a dignitary than H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, which is regularly fulfilled.

             The premises of this enterprising and eminently successful firm are situated at the corner of Crookston Street and St. James Street, Kingston, and consist of a large four-storey building with a floorage of some thirteen thousand square feet. The ground floor is occupied as the bakery where the biscuits and oat cakes are prepared and “ fired.” A number of women are employed making the oat cakes, and the pleasing odour with which the place is filled is capable of transporting the visitor, in thought, back to many a homely scene where the bustle of city life and gigantic enterprise like that of Messrs. A. & R. Scott was never so much as dreamed of. The second and third floors of the building are occupied as offices and packing rooms. The machinery by which the milling process is performed is on the fourth floor, and when it is remembered that the business was only commenced here in 1883 it readily occurs to the visitor, in glancing through these premises, extensive though they be, that ere long they must become quite inadequate for the requirements of this rapidly increasing business.

             In fact, we understand since this was written they have purchased the extensive premises known as “ Clyde Grain Mills ” in Commercial Road, to be carried on in conjunction with the Crookston Street works. It is, for example, only quite recently that connections have been formed abroad, but the oat-flour now finds a ready market in such tropical places as Demerara, Penang, Singapore, and also in Australia, Ceylon, and the Cape of Good Hope. In short it becomes evident that these gentlemen have discovered the fabled “Open Sesame ” for every market in the world, and it is not surprising that for commercial purposes they are forming the concern into a limited company.

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