P. & W. Anderson

Builders

Peter (born 1847) and William (born c. 1851) Anderson were the sons of an Auchterarder weaver, but as that trade was in decline, the brothers trained locally as stonemasons with their uncle. Peter worked in Edinburgh, where he attended additional art classes, before assisting his uncle as foreman at William Leiper's Collearn Castle, Auchterarder (1869–70) and Cairndhu, Helensburgh (1871–2). 1 The brothers worked in Glasgow as journeymen for two years, saving to set up their own company (and both marrying Perthshire wives). 2 Their first contract was for a villa in Pollokshields, an exclusive residential area of large detached properties, and its successful completion enabled them to obtain the necessary credit from builders' merchants to complete a second, similar project (Marchcroft, Nithsdale Road) for a city councillor. 3 This was the start of a series of over 30 individually-commissioned houses built by the brothers in Pollokshields. Peter Anderson moved into Marchcroft himself, c. 1904. 4

In 1881, the business employed only nine men and three boys. 5 In the 1880s and 1890s, however, the brothers began to work on much larger commercial projects, building a 'new Glasgow feature ... massive piles of insurance buildings ... erected with a lavish disregard for expense ... granite-pillared and ornamented'. 6 The Sun Buildings, Renfield Street (William Leiper, 1889) were especially admired, and P. & W. Anderson made their reputation with such prestigious contracts, 'working on difficult restricted sites, employing advanced construction methods'. 7

Other projects included the Corn Exchange, Hope Street (William F. McGibbon, c. 1896); Ingram Street Fire Station (A. B. MacDonald, City Engineer, 1898–1900); Waterloo Chambers, Waterloo St (John Burnet & Son, 1899–1901); and Campbell & McDonald's warehouse, Buchanan and Argyle Streets, now Fraser's store (Horatio Bromhead, 1896–1903). The proprietors of these companies built commensurate country houses, and the Andersons worked on Dalnair House, Drymen (George Bell, 1884); Kelly House, Wemyss Bay (a rebuilding by William Leiper, 1890–1); and Glenfinart House, Ardentinny (1896). For the carpet-manufacturing Templeton family, they extended the fairytale Knockderry Castle, Rosneath on which John Honeyman had previously worked (William Leiper, 1896). 8

In the early 20th century, the firm extended the already vast Central Station Hotel (James Miller, 1901–3), the Mitchell Library (William Whitie, c. 1907–10) and the Royal College of Science and Technology (David Barclay, 1903 and later). It became a limited liability company in 1908, with the brothers' three sons as shareholders. 9 Its most valuable contract was the replacement of the Adam brothers' original 18th-century Royal Infirmary with a new building designed by James Miller (1910–12), for the enormous sum of 187,210. 10

During the First World War, the firm was managed from London by John, son of Peter Anderson, and was heavily involved in the massive munitions works at Gretna, Dumfriesshire. Many of its 15,000 employees ('workers up to 56 years are eligible'. 11 were co-opted, on the suggestion of Peter, into the Royal Engineers, including his own son. They were to act as a construction corps for the Inland Waterways and Docks Section, who built temporary ports and wharves on the south coast to ferry supplies to the Western Front. After the war, John was created a baronet for his contributions to the war effort. His father Peter died in 1922. 12 William Anderson and his two sons continued the business on a much-reduced scale, after the original firm was liquidated in 1925. 13

Notes:

1: William Murphy, 'Messrs P. & W Anderson, Building Contractors, Douglas Street, Glasgow', Glasgow Weekly Herald, 11 January 1902, p. 19.

2: Census 1851, Peter Anderson, Parish: Auchterarder; ED: 7; Page: 33; Line: 16; Roll: CSSCT1851_71; Year: 1851, and all Censuses 1861–1901 for William and Peter, at www.ancestry.co.uk [accessed 15 April 2012].

3: William Murphy, 'Messrs P. & W Anderson, Building Contractors, Douglas Street, Glasgow', Glasgow Weekly Herald, 11 January 1902, p. 19.

4: Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1903–4; Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1904–5.

5: Census 1881, Peter Anderson, www.ancestry.co.uk [accessed 15 April 2012].

6: William Murphy, 'Messrs P. & W Anderson, Building Contractors, Douglas Street, Glasgow', Glasgow Weekly Herald, 11 January 1902, p. 19.

7: Nicholas J. Morgan, 'Peter Anderson', in A. Slaven and S. Checkland, Dictionary of Scottish Business Biography 1860–1960, vol. 2, pp. 132–3.

8: David Stark, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Co., Stenlake: Glasgow, 2004, pp. 132–3.

9: Scotsman, 31 October 1908, p.5.

10: Nicholas J. Morgan, 'Peter Anderson', in A. Slaven and S. Checkland, Dictionary of Scottish Business Biography 1860–1960, vol. 2, pp. 132–3.

11: Scotsman, 4 July 1917, p. 1

12: Edinburgh Gazette, Supplement, 7 June 1920, p. 1380; Scotsman, 24 March 1922, p. 10.

13: Edinburgh Gazette, 30 January 1925, pp. 127–8; 10 February 1925, p. 174; 28 April 1925, pp. 483–4.