John Bryden & Sons

Suppliers of bells, lifts and window blinds

B/W Advertisement for John Bryden & Sons, 1912

John Bryden & Sons (also known briefly as Bryden & Sons), bell-hangers and window blind makers in Glasgow and Edinburgh, were founded in 1809. John Bryden (1757–1829) was a bell-hanger from Peeblesshire whose son succeeded him under the firm's original style of 'John Bryden & Son'. 1 John Bryden's grandsons, Adam and William, split the firm into two separate concerns in 1846. Adam retained the premises of the original firm at 80 Rose Street, Edinburgh, and 17 Exchange Place, Glasgow, and used the name 'Bryden & Sons', before changing to 'John Bryden & Sons'. His brother William founded 'William Bryden & Son' and moved to 55 George Street, Edinburgh, which thereafter was run as an independent concern. 2

During the 1840s–60s, John Bryden & Sons ordered bells, cast in its own name, from the Gorbals Brass and Bell Foundry, including ones for churches in Ochiltree and Maybole, for the Crieff Hydro Hotel and for the West Indies. 3 In 1855, they suffered a serious fire at their Silvermills workshops in Edinburgh, which destroyed their plant and blind-making stock. 4 They continued, however, to sell 'improved spring venetian window blinds', wire gauze products and their own patented roller blinds, as well as offering gasfitting and locksmithing services. In 1862, they equipped Peddie & Kinnear's new Edinburgh Scotsman newspaper offices with the 'ingenious contrivances' of speaking tubes. 5

The partners reorganised in 1864, when the architect J. T. Rochead was one of the trustees of the deceased W. C. Bryden. 6 The firm continued under John Miller Bryden (c. 1822–96), 7 and then his sons F. J. (Frank) and H. B. (Harry) Bryden. It opened branches in Dundee, Perth and London, and extended its range to include sunshades for hot-houses, conservatories and shops. By 1885, it was well-established at 24 Renfield Street, Glasgow, and 16 Frederick Street, Edinburgh, and like other trades that worked with wire and installed household fittings, the firm eventually became telephone installers and electricians.

Strathclyde University retains one of the firm's bells of 1906 at its Chaplaincy Centre (formerly St Paul's Church) in John Street, Glasgow. Bryden's installed the Duke of Argyll's new memorial to the martyred Marquess of Argyll in Newbattle Church (1913), and presented Sir Walter Scott's original brass office nameplate (which they had presumably made) to the Advocates' Library in 1920. 8 F. J. Bryden retired in 1929, and the firm was eventually incorporated into A. Douglas & Son. With fitting synchronicity, at the end of their existence, one of John Bryden & Son's earliest (1839), award-winning bank security locks was presented to the National Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh (now the National Museum of Scotland). 9


1: Edinburgh Post Office Directory, 1815–16 and 1824–5; Bryden Noticeboard, [accessed 24 April 2012].

2: Scotsman, 17 January 1846, p. 3.

3: Christopher J. Pickford, 'Lists of Bells produced in the Gorbals Brass and Bell Foundry', 2011, [accessed 25 April 2012].

4: Caledonian Mercury, 15 March 1855, p. 3; Glasgow Herald, 16 March 1855, p. 5.

5: Scotsman, 17 May 1862, p. 2.

6: Edinburgh Gazette, 14 October 1864, p. 1299.

7: Wills and Testaments Search, [accessed 25 April 2012].

8: Scotsman, 25 January 1913, p. 12; 15 January 1920, p. 5.

9: Caledonian Mercury, 26 December 1839, p. 4; 'Donations to the Museum', Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 69, 1934–5, p. 248.