Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

James Smellie

From Graces Guide

1861 James Smellie was born in Ayrshire on 31 May; he spent his boyhood days in Dumfriesshire, where his father occupied a farm near Caerlaverock Castle, and later at Longbridgemuir, Ruthwell.

He was educated at Hutton Hall Academy, a country school.

1878 In June he commenced his business career, and agreed to serve four years as an outdoor apprentice to the Ironmongery trade in Dumfries at a salary of £40, or £10 per annum. Although his hours averaged 60 per week, he attended classes in Mathematics, Chemistry, Geology etc. He burned the midnight oil studying for examinations, secured several South Kensington certificates and also the first class prize.

1882 After his apprenticeship, he had experience in an iron monger’s shop in London, and later two years in Penrith.

1887 He accepted a situation to travel for a well-known manufacturer in Birmingham, who had an excellent reputation for producing hand cut, case-hardened Steel Fire Irons, and Burnished Steel and Ormolu Fenders with bottom plates. Tiled hearths and brass, copper and Victoria bronze curbs and hearth suites had come into fashion, but the cheaper qualities of brass and also iron fenders were bought from small makers who collected the cash on Saturday mornings in time to pay their workers’ wages.

1893 James Smellie purchased a partnership with a manufacturer in Dudley, whose cheap iron and brass rail fenders had been factored and which he had sold. They engaged a first-class draughtsman and pattern maker, who was a very skilled craftsman, and made up a number of new patterns for expensive Black and Copper Hearth Suites. They also began to make all Brass, Copper, Pierced and Forged Hearth Suites, also all kinds of Art Metal Goods, Grates and Fire Places.

James Smellie did the whole of the travelling from Bristol to Inverness, and opened over two thousand new accounts. During three and a half years the business had increased until they were the largest manufacturers of Hearth Suites in the UK. He then brought his commercial travelling to a close.

1904 On 8 January the partnership was dissolved on mutual friendly terms, and he not only purchased the works, property and cottages which they owned, the patterns, stock-in-trade, trade marks, book debts, trade name and all the assets, but he also paid a very large sum for the goodwill of the business, and left his late partner with a free hand, and no restrictions, so far as competition was concerned. Established as 1893 James Smellie purchased a partnership with a manufacturer in Dudley, whose cheap iron and brass rail fenders had been factored and which he had sold. They engaged a first-class draughtsman and pattern maker, who was a very skilled craftsman, and made up a number of new patterns for expensive Black and Copper Hearth Suites. They also began to make all Brass, Copper, Pierced and Forged Hearth Suites, also all kinds of Art Metal Goods, Grates and Fire Places.

James Smellie did the whole of the travelling from Bristol to Inverness, and opened over two thousand new accounts. During three and a half years the business had increased until they were the largest manufacturers of Hearth Suites in the UK. He then brought his commercial travelling to a close.

1904 On 8 January the partnership was dissolved on mutual friendly terms, and he not only purchased the works, property and cottages which they owned, the patterns, stock-in-trade, trade marks, book debts, trade name and all the assets, but he also paid a very large sum for the goodwill of the business, and left his late partner with a free hand, and no restrictions, so far as competition was concerned. The business was continued in his own name James Smellie.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  • James Smellie website: [1]