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of Broad Street, Glasgow
From ‘Captains of Industry’ by William S. Murphy. Published 1901.
MESSRS. STEWART & YOUNG, MANUFACTURING CONFECTIONERS, BROAD STREET, GLASGOW.
AT certain hours of the day the streets of the Mile-End district of Glasgow are flooded with streams of hurrying workers, men and women, boys and girls, going home to meals or returning to work, each factory, mill, and engineering shed sending forth, and again receiving, its quota of toilers. Broad Street, Mile-End, is a quiet enough thoroughfare during working hours; but in the early morning, at meal times, and at the close of day, it is filled with a busy crowd. To this stream of humanity the work of Messrs. Stewart & Young contribute an important tributary, over 600 persons being constantly employed in the huge buildings in which the manufacture of all kinds of confections is carried on. By building up a large business and employing numerous workers a firm in the first place benefits itself, but at the same time the community is served. Something more than mere money reward is merited by the men who gather trade, organise industry, and afford the means of earning an honest livelihood to hundreds of people. The pity is that the money reward is all that is sought by many of the makers of industry, and for this sordid motive industry is denuded of the grace of benevolence. Credit is due, notwithstanding, and probably history will endow the industrial captain with attributes more gracious than those of which he is conscious. Why should the growth of an industry be less beautiful to the thought than the growth of a tree, the opening of a flower? The increase of some industries has been obtained at cost of beauty in nature and happiness in human lives; but it is to be hoped that is not the rule. How beautiful it were if we could trace the first beginnings of a great industry and see the joy in the heart of the enterprising man slowly spreading itself out to gladden many homes. But industrial records are not so given; facts, bald facts only, with illustrations in money terms, alone are recorded.
Messrs. Stewart and Young’s business is not an exception; and yet it is possible through the obvious facts of the firm's history to catch a glimpse of the human element.
Mr. Stewart is a Greenock man, and came to Glasgow in early manhood, and entered the employment of a manufacturing-confectioner. Step by step he rose to the management of the works, and in the year 1876 joined Mr. Young in starting a new confectionery work.
Mr. Young was born in Perthshire, educated at the school of his native parish, and in one of our well-known technical schools. After some experience of business, he obtained employment as traveller to the firm of which Mr. Stewart ultimately became manager, and gained friends for himself as well as customers for his employer by his integrity, frankness, and kindly disposition. Though both partners in the firm of Messrs. Stewart & Young had good connections, their start was unambitious. Renting premises in Mair Street, Plantation, on the south side of the Clyde, they began operations, Mr. Stewart taking the inside and Mr. Young the outside work.
The business quickly outgrew the available space, and in 1886 large premises in Broad Street, Mile-End, were purchased, and considerable additions made thereto. The feu extends 6000 square yards, and is bounded on both sides by a brick wall. Within the enclosed space six ranges of buildings are erected. The main building is of four storeys, with a frontage of 100 yards, and standing at right angles are other five ranges of buildings, with the two chimney stalks towering above all. On the lower flats the first and last operations are carried on, viz., the bringing in and boiling of the raw material, and the carting away of the finished products; and in this respect those works resemble a mighty automatic machine which receives a miscellany of raw material and returns it in the manufactured shape ready for market and use.
The jam-boiling operations are carried on in a large, well-lit, and airy- apartment. The process of jam-making may first be described. Sent direct from the orchards and fruit farms of the Clyde valley, the fruit is emptied into patent sifters, and after being thoroughly cleaned and picked passes into steam-jacketed copper cauldrons along with the necessary quantity of sugar and boiled by steam. After being boiled the fruit is either preserved as jam and canned or subjected to a draining process for producing the juice out of which jelly is made. Excepting that the work is done by mechanical aids and appliances, and on a larger scale, the jam-making here differs in very slight degree from the domestic mode of production. The jam or jelly having been canned and cooled, it is labelled, covered, and packed for the market.
The process of sugar-boiling is an interesting operation, which mechanical ingenuity has greatly facilitated. Messrs. Stewart & Young have, for instance, a steam-pan into which sugar is fed through a hopper, and comes out a clear syrup of pure boiled sugar, ready for any purpose for which it may be required. Perhaps it is needed for the black part of striped balls; if so, a little vegetable colour is added to a quantity of the boiling, and kneaded to cool consistency: On the other hand, some may be taken for the white stripe, and drawn and twisted until it is as white as snow; or colour may be mixed with sugar in the boiling-pan, and produce a red, yellow, or other candy. But whatever the colour or consistency of the boiling, this wonderful pan will send out a steady flow so long as the materials are supplied to it. Beside the boiling apparatus is another curious invention, which changes sugar into a snowy-cream, useful for ornamenting fancy confections. It has the appearance of a hopper set above two covered cylinders, which revolve on each other and churn the contained sugar. Satinettes have been a fashionable sweet for a few years. Here they are produced in very fine qualities. The sugar has been heated to a very high temperature, and in the shape of highly-glazed stripes is laid on a stamping machine, which automatically shapes and cuts them into various pretty patterns.
The extensive premises of Messrs. Stewart & Young abound in machinery of all kinds and the newest types. Large revolving pans circle and oscillate in long rows on one flat, and on the flat above long lozenge-making machines work continually. These revolving pans, it may be remarked, are curiously shaped cavities, composed of copper, and used for coating with sugar any core and in any desired shape. Liquorice, cloves, carvie, and almonds are here covered. Some are fitted with squirt-pointed tubes, from which a stream of syrup exudes, and produces the prettiest feathery and flaky effects imaginable on the sweets in the pan. The lozenge department is a spacious place, the floor occupied by long machines, tables, and working benches. A pure sugar dough having been kneaded and pressed to the required consistency, it is laid on a flat hopper, through which it is passed between two rollers, and emerges a square slab; again it goes through rollers to appear flatter and broader, and runs along a broad band to where a series of dies cut into the thin cake, and shape out of it a row of lozenges. These pass on to a board, and are taken to the drying-room, whence thousands of their kind arc being conveyed to the packing department.
Fondants and pastilles are made in the flat above. Wonderful sweets are fondants, flavoury, crisp, and luscious. Yet they are simply made. Melted sugar, coloured and flavoured to the requisite degree, poured into rubber moulds and left to harden — that is all; but, of course, the cooks' brains are also at work in the process.
Pastilles are also moulded, but in a different fashion. Soft starch imprinted with patterns of many kinds form the moulds into which the liquid sugar-gum is poured. They are allowed to set, and then taken on boards to the drying-room, where thousands of boards are piled one upon the other above steam-heating pipes.
Another department is devoted wholly to the production of gum sweets. These streets appear to act as the reflex of the craze of the hour, assuming shapes quaint, fantastic, humorous, patriotic, or sentimental, from Punch's quaint figure to Lord Roberts' martial face; from Baden-Powell's manly form to Mother Hubbard's shoe. Butter scotch, caramels, chocolate creams, and other high-class confections develop from machines of wonderful cleverness operated by busy workers.
One machine in particular appears to be specially worthy of note. It produces chocolate creams in the cleanliest, most rapid, and clever fashion. Standing in a little room by itself, this chocolate cream making machine has the aspect of a small mill. Above is a box which may be filled with ice to cool the chocolate in very hot weather; below this runs an endless broad band, and in the fore part of the machine a box-like apparatus where the operation of covering is done. On each side of the machine stand double tables, where girls fill wire-netted frames with the creams. The frames are fitted on above the steel box, and when the machine is put in motion they automatically descend; the stream of chocolate flows in, covers the creams, and drips through the wire gauze; the covered creams are dropped on to the endless band and delivered complete at the other end. Of the numerous labour-saving machines used in these works it is impossible to speak in detail.
An interesting department is where the Christmas stockings are made up. Toys and sweets, gauzes, ribbons silks, and sheeny fabrics and papers of all colours and kinds lie heaped on tables before busy workers, who deftly fill stockings varying in size from the baby's bootee to gigantic legs 7 ft. long with the various articles, and sew or gum on the ornaments. It is the land of Santa Claus, and . . . . .
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As we have said, the firm is of two partners, Mr. Archibald Stewart and Mr. Alexander Young, and the partnership has been a very happy its well as a successful one, for they arc congenial in spirit and aims. Mr. Stewart takes a deep interest in the temperance movement, is a director of the Scottish Temperance League, and supports temperance propaganda liberally. His sympathy is with the poorer classes in their efforts to lead good lives amid evil surroundings, and has shown his sympathy by acting as superintendent of the Pollokshields Free Church Mission Sabbath School for half his life-time, hoping thus to influence the Young toward good. Religious and temperance work find in him a vigorous and practical supporter. An elder in Pollokshields Free Church for many years, a member of the Sustentation Fund Committee, and otherwise engaged in Church work, he is recognised as a Free Churchman of ability and zeal.
Mr. Young has also a love for work among the children. A member of the executive of the Glasgow Sabbath School Union, he has taken a special interest in the magic-lantern agency of that useful and benevolent institution, and has greatly helped to spread the use of pictorial means of conveying to the young mind noble and ennobling ideas. As convener of the Baptist Union Sabbath School Committee he has done good work. Indeed the Baptist Church in Scotland has a lively sense of Mr. Young's ability and worth, and it is said that he was offered the president's chair of the Union. The Christian Endeavour movement, which has spread so rapidly over the civilised world, early attracted him, and he is a member of the executive of the movement in Scotland. From these few facts the chief characteristics of the two partners may be inferred, and their congeniality understood. It has been said that there is no friendship in business; but Messrs. Stewart & Young began with friendship, and put it into business, achieving results which even the most practical scorner of sentiment can not despise.
On 27th April, 190r, Messrs. Stewart & Young celebrated their semi-jubilee, and received the congratulations of their employees, given in an unusually hearty fashion. Addresses were presented to the partners, and handsome gifts to their wives, and altogether the event gave opportunity for expression of the mutual regards felt by employees and partners for each other.