Note: This research is based on the people who appear in the Property Database on Bygone Bungo, in this case the entry for 10 Moray Place, which helps give the following context. You can explore further from the Address or Person Search in the main menu.
John was a wine and spirit merchant who had stores at Royal Arcade, 120 Sauchiehall Street, and 29 Norfolk Street in the Gorbals. He was in business from the 1850s, and when Moray Place was completed in 1862 he moved in to the large end-of-terrace property. He died at home on 1st February 1865 .
This article grew out of an investigation of two early residents of 9 Moray Place, both of whom were file-cutters, and who appeared to be linked in some way. Read on to find out how.
The history of file-making
The file is an ancient tool with a crucial role in the development of industry. It is a piece of hardened steel with many small sharp teeth cut into its surfaces which can cut into, smooth, sharpen and shape any material.
Before the introduction of precision engineering of machine parts, files were important in putting together the mechanisms or working parts in items from watches to heavy engineering machinery. Component parts were roughly shaped by forging or casting, machined to an approximate size, then carefully filed to fit one another perfectly. Thus files were used by engineers and in all the metalworking trades; cutlers, silversmiths, clock and watchmakers, etc. There was also a large market for files for sharpening saw teeth. A type of file called a rasp was used in trades working with softer natural materials like wood, horn, marble and bone. Files were thus essential for the manufacture of most other items in factories, and were often one of the major tool costs in manufacturing. Worn files were often regrinded and re-cut to prolong their life .
In the UK, the centre of file-making was undoubtedly Sheffield. From 1624 the Cutler’s Company included file-making amongst the practices it covered, and exerted strict controls over the business, managing the apprenticeships and appointing Freemen. But when the Company’s control over the trades finally ended in 1814, the unions took its place, and worked hard to insist that any man in the trade must be a member of the union. Intimidation was common. In 1857, a saw grinder, James Lindley, was accused of taking on too many apprentices, and was followed for weeks and then shot and killed. Others were bombed out of their homes.
Note: This research is based on the people who appear in the Property Database on Bygone Bungo, in this case the entry for 9 Moray Place, which helps give the following context. You can explore further from the Address or Person Search in the main menu.
The first resident of 9 Moray Place was Thomas Henderson, of the Glasgow firm of file manufacturers and steel merchants, M Hetherington & Co, in Dale Street (now Tradeston St), Tradeston. He moved in c.1862 but didn’t stay in Strathbungo more than a couple of years.
Around 1865-8 the occupant was John Hetherington, of the Glasgow firm of file manufacturers, R Hetherington & Son, of Kingston, not to be confused with previous resident Thomas Henderson of M Hetherington, file manufacturers. Heaven forbid you should confuse them with the Glasgow firm of file manufacturers, J B Hetherington.
Realising there had to be some story here, I embarked on a two-week obsessive detour down some rabbit warren, researching the links between the Hendersons, the Hetheringtons and the history and importance of file-making. Their story features bosses versus unions, men versus machines, family rivalries and alliances, and boom and bust. Sort of the industrial revolution in miniature. But it’s too much for this post; you can read it all under The file-makers of Glasgow.
The art of file-making. Credit: Lost Art Press