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Lyon Ltd, of 474 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, Scotland, stationers and printers

1845 William Lyon was born at Troon in Ayrshire, the third son of Andrew Lyon and his wife Ann. He also had two sisters, and two elder brothers. William had strong artistic talents.

1867 William moved to Glasgow after his marriage.

1868 William was described as a stationer in the Post Office directory.

1869 The business was described as stationer, die-sinker and crest embosser.

1871 The business had been established three years and he describes himself as a stationer employing one man and nine girls in Sauchiehall Street.

1885 William’s stationery business grew steadily and he had a shop at 389 Sauchiehall Street, a printing factory across the street at 474 Sauchiehall Street and another shop in the Argyll Arcade in the city centre. William then created history in the stationery trade by giving the world private Christmas Cards. Before this all Christmas cards had an inset slip showing the printed greeting which was tied to the cover by a coloured ribbon. Two school-mistresses used to send cards to all their pupils past and present and they signed each one. Gradually this task became a burden. William wanted to keep their custom so he printed their names on the insert before tying it to the cover. This idea was a success; demand for private cards soared dramatically and led to William opening his factory across the street.

1888 William Lyon had by now a good-sized factory and amongst many of his products were Visiting Cards. At the 1888 exhibition he offered a three-minute service for their production. In addition to the factory on the north side of Sauchiehall Street there were by this time three "City" branches of the business.

1898 A telephone was in use at the factory.

1900 William Lyon was still running four shops. The main one was probably 389 Sauchiehall Street opposite the factory, in addition the Lyon name could be seen at 54 Argyll Arcade, 7 Buchanan Street and 55 Gordon Street. All were prime sites for retail trade in Glasgow at that time.

1905 A shop was established at 177 Sauchiehall Street but he did not keep it long as two years later the premises next door to 389 Sauchiehall Street came on the market. Not only was it adjacent to 389 but 397 was on the Elmbank Street corner of Sauchiehall Street. He gave up 7 Buchanan Street and with 177 Sauchiehall Street and thus formed Lyon corner'.

1910 He formed the business into a Limited company under the name Lyon Ltd, and his two eldest sons were probably running the business to William’s satisfaction.

1913 William Lyon died.

1922 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Printers and Publishers of the "Premier" Series Christmas, Birthday, "In Memoriam," Condolence and Wreath Cards, Whist Scoring Cards; Children's Invitations and Stationery; Silk Pincushions. (Stand No. K.105) [1]

1927 In April the printing factory at 474 Sauchiehall Street suffered a serious fire.

1939 By the time the war started, the retail shops were down to two - in the Argyll Arcade and Sauchiehall Street.

The immediate post war years saw some return to normality with profits being made each year.

1952 Some changes in the management of the business were made effective.

1955 The Trustees met to discuss the future of the business.

Business continued during the 1950s, the factory started to build up its commercial sales by offering its services to Advertising Agents etc. The basement area was developed for additional sales space. This extra space made it possible to display artwork in a picture gallery and sell artists materials. The range of goods offered was extensive. An overhead indicator board listed Toys, Books, Gifts, Lighting, Pictures and Greetings Cards. A leather goods department placed near the entrance.

By 1961 the factory was beginning to become known as a commercial printer.

1964 The decision was taken to close the factory.

1968 A year of celebration and disaster for Lyon Ltd, separated by a time interval of only four days in October. These were the centenary of the business William Lyon had begun in 1868 and the crashing of a lorry into the premises - killing one customer and injuring 25 others.

About two weeks after the crash the firm reopened for business, thanks to the goodwill of the community headed by Sir Hugh Fraser, chairman of the House of Fraser. This was done by opening four "Mini shops" one in part of the damaged shop and three others in nearby empty premises. The crash had a disastrous effect, fro, which the company would never recover.

1970 The financial results for the year to the end of March 1970 showed a heavy loss, which was never reversed.

1971 Efforts were made to sell the business as a going concern but with little success. The insurance claim for the accident was finally settled by March.

1972 The decision was taken, after consulting the shareholders, to cease trading. The name "Lyon Ltd" was sold to another Glasgow stationers, Holmes McDougall and Co.

See Also

  • [1] Living History

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