J. & B. Stevenson

Messrs. J. & B. Stevenson, Cranstonhill and Plantation Bakeries, Glasgow; and Battersea Bakeries, London.ó

    The position of the bread-baking trade in Glasgow to day, as contrasted with that of a quarter of a century ago, affords a striking example of what maybe accomplished, even in a large city, by the energy and perseverance of a single firm. In 1865, when Messrs. J. & B. Stevenson first established themselves in the baking trade, all but a very trifling proportion of the bread consumed in Glasgow was made by hand on the premises of the family baker. These premises in the majority of instances were situated underground, as though publicity was something to be dreaded, and light and ventilation were a plague. Now, the amount of bread delivered direct to consumers by the family baker forms but a very small percentage of the whole, the great bulk of the business having in the interval been transferred to those large factories which stand out so clearly in the public view, and are constructed specially to meet the requirements of sanitary science, especially as regards cleanliness and ventilation.

    While it is true that, with respect to the merits of machine-made bread as compared with that manufactured by hand, there may still be room for discussion, it is an undoubted fact that the preponderance of opinion is greatly in favour of the former, otherwise it would be impossible to account for the place it has made and holds for itself at the expense of the latter. The improvements that have taken place in the methods of manufacture and distribution of bread are due in no small degree to the enterprise and attention of Messrs. J. & B., Stevenson in the management of their own business.

    Beginning, as has been stated in 1865, with a modest little factory of five ovens, their business grew from month to month and from year to year, until at present it occupies two gigantic factories, one at Cranstonhill on the north, and one at Plantation on the south side of the river. These factories in their main features are pretty much alike, except as regards such structural differences as are due to the sites on which they stand. They are built from the foundation and equipped throughout as bread bakeries, under the direction of the proprietors, whose experience was extensive enough to ensure that they should supply, with as near an approach to perfection as possible, the accommodation and facilities that the business required. They are each some seven stories in height, the bakehouses occupying the lower floors, being lofty and spacious halls, resting on and roofed with solid brick and concrete arches, supported by sufficient beams and pillars ; each bakehouse contains from nine to fifteen ovens of the ordinary Scotch type, these ovens being mostly in pairs (that is to say, two ovens thrown into one), and in addition to these there are two large revolving ovens. Each floor or bakehouse is complete in itself, and is under the care of a separate foreman, who has his own staff of workmen and his own barm or fermentation-room. Ample provision exists for the regulation of temperature, which in the case of a bakery is a most essential matter. Each factory has a warehouse on the street floor, into which all the bakehouses discharge their produce, and where the bread is packed into vans for the city and surrounding towns, or into cases or hampers for more remote destinations. The united capacity of these two concerns is fully 100,000 two-pound loaves per day, and for the distribution of the dayís out-turn there are employed about forty large vans and about sixty horses, while by rail and steamer the bread is sent all over Scotland.

    Encouraged by their experience in Glasgow, and to meet a demand frequently and urgently expressed, the firm in 1885 erected and set agoing a factory at Battersea, London, and it would appear that the success that has attended the Scotch business is following the firm in the south, for already a large extension has been made in the premises there, and another addition is in immediate contemplation ; while at this early date depots have been opened to meet the growing demand for J. & B. Stevensonís goods at the following places in the metropolis, namely, 20, Edgeware Road, W. ; 256, Oxford Street, W. ; 101, Westbourne Grove, W.; 153, Fenchurch Street, E.C. ; 64, King William Street, E.C. ; 234, Upper Street, Islington, N. ; 500, Brixton Road, S.W. ; Park Road, Battersea, S.W. ; 33, Old Broad Street, E.C. The London business differs from the Glasgow one in this, that while the latter is confined to loaf bread exclusively, the former embraces besides loaf bread all kinds of small bread, pastries, and fancy bread.

    Thus from a small beginning has arisen a concern which in its own way is not matched anywhere for the steadiness and rapidity of its growth and for its present dimensions ; and this, as has been said, may be traced in part to the energy and perseverance of the firm, but obviously no less to the care and attention with which they have been able to turn out an article which for appearance, flavour, and purity has commanded so prominent a place for itself in the esteem of the community.

Back to Index of Firms (1888)