Haddow, Forbes & Co.

Tilers and sanitary ware suppliers

Colour photohraph of Haddow, Forbes & Co.'s invoice for tiling at the Glasgow School of Art, 1909

The marble merchants and tile manufacturers Haddow, Forbes & Co. Ltd, which also traded as the Staffordshire Tileries Co., were founded in Glasgow around 1891 by two brothers-in-law. Both Adam Haddow (born c. 1861) and Thomas Stuart Forbes (born c. 1870) were the sons of tradesmen in rural villages. Their fathers died when they were children, and both men were living with their widowed mothers in central Glasgow in the late 1880s, when Haddow married Forbes's sister, Elizabeth. 1

Haddow had begun as a commercial clerk in an iron foundry, and it was not until c. 1892 that he joined Forbes, who was already working as a 'tile and marble merchant', in setting up the Staffordshire Tileries Co. 2 This new firm, based at 178 West Regent Street, rapidly expanded its activities as 'tile layers, manufacturers, [suppliers of] marble, etc.', and by 1898 had become the agent for a Welsh slate quarry as well. 3

Haddow, Forbes & Co. really seem to have taken off after 1901. Haddow moved his family to a quiet, prosperous dormitory area – Bellfield in Kirkintilloch – and the firm won several large commercial tile-laying contracts. 4 They offered a wide range of tiling-related products and services, advertising in 1905 as 'makers of all kinds of artistic fireplaces', and supplying 'Marmor tile slabs for baths, hospital lavatories, cold storage, etc.'; 'Forbes Patent Rubber Floor Tiling'; 'Bruckners's Patent Fireproof Plate Wall'; and 'Wood block flooring'. 5 They opened Edinburgh and London branches, as well as running the Clyde Marble Works and their own tile works in Glasgow.

Haddow, Forbes & Co. tiled the new Kirkintilloch Town Hall in 1905–6, and Partick Fire Station in 1906–7. 6 Their work at James Miller's Lowther Terrace, Glasgow appeared in the Architectural Review in 1909. 7 They suffered a serious fire at their Glasgow warehouse in 1911, when 'the contents of the two floors, consisting mostly of artistic tiles in crates, and two thirds of the roof were destroyed'. 8 This may have played a part in the firm's closing-down sale two years later, when they sold off their marble and terazzo plant and the office furniture at their Anderston works. 9 The company was liquidated in 1913, and finally wound up in October 1916. 10


1: Census Thomas Forbes, 1871–91; Adam Haddow, Census 1871–81, www.ancestry.co.uk; Haddow-Forbes 1889, Statutory Marriages 644/07 0283, www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk [all accessed 25 May 2012].

2: Thomas Stuart Forbes, Census 1891, Adam Haddow, Census 1881–91, www.ancestry.co.uk [accessed 25 May 2012].

3: Glasgow Post Office directories, 1892–8

4: Glasgow Post Office directories, 1898–1901.

5: Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1905–6, General Directory, p. 345.

6: Kirkintilloch Town Hall, Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland, www.buildingsatrisk.org.uk/ref_no/1295 [accessed 25 May 2012]; Programme, Opening of Partick Fire Station 21 May 1907, www.graeme.kirkwood.btinternet.co.uk/SFB/A06.htm [accessed 25 May 2012].

7: Mervyn E. Macartney, 'Recent English Domestic Architecture', Architectural Review (Special Edition), 30, 1909, pp. 133, 137.

8: Scotsman, 20 September 1911, p. 8.

9: Scotsman, 16 August 1913, p. 14.

10: Edinburgh Gazette, 6 May 1913, p. 506; 6 October 1916, p. 1824.