Robert Dalglish Junior – calico printer and longtime Arlington chairman

Robert Dalglish Junior was from an eminent local family, including businessmen, a Lord Provost and an MP, and was chairman of the the Board at the Arlington Baths for its first 48 years.

He was a director of the Glasgow Swimming Baths Company and secretary to the First Committee of Management of the Arlington Swimming Club when the Baths was founded.

The first Robert Dalglish – calico printer and Lord Provost

Robert’s grandfather Robert Dalglish (1770- 1844) was born in Glasgow and became apprenticed to Andrew Stephenson, a muslin manufacturer in Bell Street, around 1784. He married Jean Clyde in 1791 and had at least two children: Andrew Stephenson Dalglish (1793-1858) and Robert Dalglish (1808-1880).

In 1805, he founded a calico printing company called Dalglish, Falconer & Co in partnership with his brother Alexander and friend Patrick Falconer, after leasing a disused mill, works and 33 acres of land in Lennoxtown north of Glasgow. The company would use innovative technology and in 1810 introduced a surface-printing machine (previously all designs had been hand-blocked or painted onto the cloth) and soon afterwards also introduced cylinder printing.

Thomas Bell of Glasgow had patented his cylinder printing device in 1783, but it took a little while for that system to develop the balance between quality and quantity that would see it come to dominate – it’s estimated that by 1835 three quarters of all the cloth prints produced in the Britain were printed by cylinder machine.  It represented a step change, with a contemporary observer noting that,  “a single cylinder machine, with one attendant to regulate the rollers, is capable of printing as many pieces as a hundred men and the same number of girls could do with the hand block in the same time; or as much work may be executed by the cylinder in four minutes, as by the ordinary mode of block-printing in six hours.”

The Dalglish family lived at 25 St Vincent Place. Robert Dalglish would go on to become a town councillor in 1825 and Lord Provost of Glasgow from 1830-32.

The second Robert Dalglish – MP

His son Robert Dalglish (1808-1880), who was the father of the Baths’ founder, was educated at the University of Glasgow.

He joined the family business and continued to make it a success. He lived in Lennoxtown at ‘The Cottage’ with his wife Mary Bailie where they had at least three children:

  • Robert (1842-1918)
  • Jane (1845-1934)
  • Andrew Stephenson (1846-1876)

Robert Dalglish became an MP for the city between 1857-74 as an Independent Radical and campaigned for the enlargement of the franchise. Locally he argued for the Botanic Gardens to be opened on Sunday afternoons and was instrumental in the erection of Marochetti’s statue of the Duke of Wellington outside the Royal Exchange (now the Stirling Library/GOMA).

In 1853 he bought Kilmardinney House in Bearsden and made extensive renovations. He was renowned in both London and Glasgow for his lavish entertaining and regarded as a popular MP.

Robert Dalglish Jnr – manager of the calico print works

Robert married Jane Mary Anderson of Drymen on the 8th September 1869 at 18 Woodside Terrace. Jane (Jean?) was the sister of another one of our founders, Thomas Steel Anderson. Their first child, Marion Dorothea, was born on 2 June 1870 at Woodside Place, just five weeks before Robert signed the Bath’s Article of Incorporation to help found the Arlington Baths.

In addition to the Lennox mill print works in Lennoxtown and a warehouse at 27 Ingram Street Glasgow, the company also had premises in Manchester.

Pattern books for R. Dalglish Falconer Company Ltd of Manchester and Glasgow, Geffrye Museum, London

At the 1881 census, Robert and Jane lived in Lennoxmill cottage in Lennoxtown and he was managing the calico printing business. The household consisted of their seven children:

  • Marion Dorothea
  • Robert
  • John Alexander
  • Mary
  • June
  • Janet Annie
  • Andrew Stephenson

And there were five staff: Margaret McArthur (cook), Sarah Cameron (head nurse), Margaret McGregor (table maid), Annie Wilson (housemaid) and Marion McRae (nurse maid).

Sadly Andrew Stephenson Dalglish died in Calcutta (now called Kolkata) at the age of 15 in 1905.

R Dalglish, Falconer & Co. was one of the three largest calico printers in Scotland along with Crum of Thornliebank and Wm. Stirling & Sons of Renton (in which another founder Donald Matheson had an interest). The company was amalgamated into the Calico Printers Association Limited in 1899. This company was formed by the leading printed textile manufacturers “to preserve the tradition and standing of calico printing and to produce textiles of a high standard at reasonable prices.” The company accounted for over 80% of Britain’s printed textile output. 

Robert Dalglish Junior died on 21 February at 4.06 am at 25 Dundonald Road, Glasgow, at 75 years of age. He left his estate to his wife Jane Mary Anderson who he also made executor.

Kilmardinny House is now an Art Centre and features in its grounds one of a series of art pieces created for a community programme linking outdoor sculptural art and heritage trails across 11 local communities in East Dunbartonshire.  The Kilmardinny Tree, by Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva, features a fallen tree from the grounds of the mansion which the artist has reinvented, inverted, covered in gold leaf and applied a design based on a Dalglish & Falconer Co calico pattern.

There is another link to the company at Lennoxtown Library where, inspired by the former calico print works at Lennox Mill, a vinyl window installation is composed like a page from a pattern sample book one might discover within the archives. 

Robert Dalglish Junior’s nearly 50 years service to the club is recorded in the 48th AGM report on Wednesday 8th May 1918. He is buried with Jane and three of their children in the family plot in Glasgow Necropolis.

 

Researchers: Kay Bryant, Will Jess

Sources:

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