Cudbear Manufactory
Làmh-cheàrdaich Cudbear

Ron t-siathamh linn deug, bha aodaichean air an dath le dathan nàdarrach is dathan glasraich, a’ toirt dhaibh dathan sàmhach dorch. Tha dàin Ghàidhlig bhon àm sin a tha fhathast rim faotainn gu h-àraid am measg nan uaislean, ag ràdh gun robh roghainn ann airson dathan soilleir làidir. Bha dathan guirmean is càrnaid air an in-mhalairt gus an do thòisich Albannaich thionnsgaineach a’ coimhead ri dathan ‘dachaigheil’ fhàs agus a chleachdadh. B’ e Seòras Mac an Tòisich aon de na fir innleachdach sin a thàinig gu bhith na thùsaire gnìomhachais leis an fhactaraidh dhathan aige ann an Taobh Sear Ghlaschu.

Prior to the sixteenth century, fabrics were coloured with natural and vegetable dyes, giving them a subdued, muted colours. Surviving Gaelic verse suggests that, particularly in high society, there was a preference for bright and bold colours. Indigo and cochineal dyes were imported until entrepreneurial Scots sought to provide a ‘home-grown’ alternative. One of these inventive men was George Macintosh who became a highland industrial pioneer with his dye-works in the East End of Glasgow.

Air a bhreith anns An Neo Mhòr ann an Siorrachd Rois sa bhliadhna 1739, ghluais Seòras Mac an Tòisich a Ghlaschu a lorg obair ann an oifisean Companaidh Cartaidh Ghlaschu. Chaidh a chur an urra ri bùth mhòr a bha a’ dèanamh bhrogan san Trongate gu 1773 nuair a stèidhich e a bhùth fhèin mar shaothraiche bhrògan. Bha an tionnsgnadh seo glè shoirbheachail, agus aig dìreach 35 bliadhna a dh’aois, bha sgioba-obrach de mu 500 neach air fhastadh aige.

Bha iomradh air mar ‘duine sgairteil’ agus a dh’aindeoin a chuid soirbheachaidh bha e an-còmhnaidh a’ coimhead airson obraichean ùra. Thionndaidh e aire gu mòran raointean malairt is gnothachais agus nam measg bha gnothachas an dathaidh. Chaidh e ann an com-pàirteachas le Seòras Gòrdain agus mac a bhràthar, an Dr Cuthbert Gòrdain, a thuilleadh air Mgr Gladstone à Dungalston gus an dath purpaidh is dearg leis an ainm ‘Cudbear’ a thoirt gu buil.

Born in Newmore, Ross-shire in 1739, George Macintosh moved to Glasgow to find work in the offices of the Glasgow Tanwork Company. He was put in charge of their large boot-making shop in Trongate until 1773 when he set up on his own as a manufacturer of boots and shoes. This venture proved very successful and at the age of just 35 he was employing a staff of nearly 500 persons.

He was described as an ‘energetic man’ and despite his success was constantly looking for new occupations. He turned his attention to many areas of trade and commerce which included the business of dyeing. He went into partnership with George Gordon and his nephew Dr Cuthbert Gordon, as well as Mr Gladstone of Dungalston to produce the a purple and red dye called ‘Cudbear’.

Portrait of George Macintosh © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection

Chaidh an dath a leasachadh le Seòras Gòrdain ann an Lìte far an robh e air a bhith ag obair a’ càradh ghoilearan ann am factaraidh dhathan. Thuig e a’ ghiullachd a bha an lùib a bhith a’ cleachdadh crotal airson an dath dhearg-ruadh orseille a chruthachadh, gu bhith glè choltach ris a’ phròiseas a bhiodh a sheanmhair a’ dol troimhe air a’ Ghàidhealtachd. Còmhla ri mac a bhràthar, an Dr Gòrdain a bha na cheimigear, chaidh am pròiseas a leasachadh airson dath ùr a chruthachadh don tugadh an t-ainm ‘Cudbear’.

Chaidh Mac an Tòisich a chur an urra ris an t-saothrachadh choimearsalta air an dath seo ann 1777 agus stèidhich e factaraidh air iomall a’ bhaile ann an Dennistoun. Air fearann san robh 17 acairean, thog e cha b’ e a-mhàin factaraidh ach taighean is liosan don luchd-obrach aige agus aitreabh mòr dha fhèin, a chuairtich e uile le balla san robh deich troighean a dh’àirde. Bha an tionnsgnadh aige mar ‘clachan’ beag a bha air leth bhon bhaile a b’ fhaisge agus na ro-theachdair air coloinidhean gnìomhachasail nuadh-aimsireil mar Port Sunlight agus Bourneville.

The dye had been developed by George Gordon in Leith when he had been working to repair boilers in a dye-works. He recognised the process of using lichen rochella to create the reddish brown dye orseille as very similar to that used by his grandmother in the Highlands. Along with his nephew Dr Gordon, a chemist, the process was perfected to create a new dye and given the name ‘Cudbear’.

Macintosh was put in charge of the commercial manufacture of this dye in 1777 and set up a works on the outskirts of the town in Dennistoun. In a 17 acre plot, he erected not only the works but houses and gardens for his workers and a mansion for himself, all of which he surrounded by a ten foot high wall. The works formed a little ‘clachan’ which was isolated from the adjoining town and a forerunner of the modern industrial colonies of Port Sunlight and Bourneville.

Map of Glasgow from 1807 showing the Dunchatten estate and Cudbear works in Dennistoun Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

B’ e an t-adhbhar airson a bhith iomallach, gus dìomhaireachd a’ phròiseis giullachd a ghleidheadh agus a bha air a dhèanamh buileach nas tèarainte le bhith a’ fastadh Ghàidheil le Gàidhlig a-mhàin, a bha air am mionnan gu dìomhaireachd chruaidh le an ainmean gan gairm bho rola gach madainn. Ann am farsaingeachd a’ bhaile thàinig e gu bhith aithnichte mar ‘An Tionnsgnadh Dìomhair’.

Bha na h-obraichean a fàs cho mòr agus gun robh an t-solar chrotail ann an Alba a’ ruith a-mach agus b’ fheudar in-mhalairt à Nirribhigh agus às an t-Suain. Thathar a’ tuairmseadh gun deach luach £300,000 de chrotal in-mhalairt eadar 1788 agus 1838.

The reason for this isolation was to keep the secret of the manufacturing process, which was further secured by the exclusive employment of Gaelic-speaking Highlanders who were sworn to the strictest secrecy and underwent a roll call in Gaelic every morning. In the wider city it became known as ‘The Secret Works’.

So extensive were the operations that the supply of Scottish crotal became exhausted and it had to be imported from Norway and Sweden. It is estimated that from 1788 to 1838, £300 000 worth of lichen was imported.

George Macintosh retained his native Gaelic throughout his life and possessed an enduring love of the Highlands. He was known for his patriotic spirit and philanthropic nature, particularly in relation to alleviating the distress of his fellow highlanders, with many ventures, including a cotton mill in Sutherland, designed to provide work for his fellow Gaels.

He was associated with the movement to establish a Gaelic church in Glasgow so as his fellow Gaels might have the benefit and comfort of worshipping God in their native tongue.

Ghlèidh Seòras Mac an Tòisich a chuid Gàidhlig fad a bheatha, agus bha gràdh maireannach aige air a’ Ghàidhealtachd. Bha e aithnichte airson a spiorad nàiseantach agus a ghràdh-daonna, gu h-àraid a thaobh a bhith a’ toirt faochadh bho uallach do a’ cho-Ghàidheil, tro mhòran thionngsnaidhean a’ gabhail a-steach muileann chotain ann an Cataibh, air a deilbh gu sònraichte gus obair a thoirt do na Gàidheil.

Bha e co-cheangailte ris a’ ghluasad airson eaglais Ghàidhlig a stèidheachadh ann an Glaschu gus am faigheadh na Gàidheil buannachd is cofhurtachd ann an adhradh do Dhia nan teanga fhèin.

Rear view of a Woman's dress in shaded purple mohair dyed by using Cudbear © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection E.1938.92.n

Nuair a rinn ‘Na Canadian Fencibles’, rèisimeid air a dèanamh suas gu tur le Gàidheil,  aramach ann an Glaschu, chaidh èigheach air Seòras Mac an Tòisich agus bha an òraid a lìbhrig e ann an ‘cànan milis nan gleann’ cho èifeachdach agus gun do thill na fir gu sàmhach do an àite-fuirich gun dragh sam bith eile.

Nuair a fhuair e bàs ann an 1807, chaidh cuimhneachan dha a chumail ann an Eaglais Naoimh Anndra, a bha air a fhrithealadh le Maighstirean-lagha, buill den Chomann Ghàidhealach, sgoilearan bho Sgoil a’ Chomainn Ghàidhealaich agus riochdairean bho na buidhnean poblach anns a’ bhaile. Chaidh an t-searmon leis an Urr. Uilleam MacRisnidh, fhoillseachadh às dèidh sin agus chaidh an teachd-a-steach a fhuaireadh bhon reic a bhuileachadh mar thabhartas air adhbharan a’ Chomainn Ghàidhealaich, ris an robh dlùth cheanglaichean aig Mac an Tòisich.

When ‘The Canadian Fencibles ‘, a regiment composed entirely of Highlanders, mutinied in Glasgow, George Macintosh was called for and so effectual was the oration delivered by him in the ‘sweet language of their native glens’ the men returned quietly to their quarters with no further trouble.

Upon his death in 1807 a memorial was held in St Andrews Church attended by Magistrates, members of the Highland Society, scholars of the Highland Society School and representatives of public bodies in the city. The sermon, preached by Rev. William Ritchie, was afterwards published and the proceeds of its sale donated to the purposes of the Highland Society, with which Macintosh was closely associated.

...so effectual was the oration delivered by him in the 'sweet language of their native glens' the men returned quietly to their quarters

Bha luchd-dàimh aig Seòras Mac an Tòisich a bha a cheart cho cudromach. Dh’fhàg a mhac, Teàrlach, a phreantasachd ann am factaraidh Cudbear gus cuimseachadh air an ùidh a bha aige ann an ceimigean. Dh’fhàs e fìor shoirbheachail mar cheimigear agus lean na deuchainnean a choilean e gu innleachadh air aodach dìonach bhon uisge (agus an còta air a bheil ainm), pùdar gealachaidh agus meudachadh ann an èifeachdas fhùirneisean-iarainn.

B’ e mac a pheathar, Sir Iain Moore, air a bheil ìomhaigh-snaighte na sheasamh ann an Ceàrnag Sheòrais, an gaisgeach mòr armailteach Napoleonach. Mar òganach, fhuair e preantasachd mar chlàrc ann an oifis factaraidh Cudbear, far an deach a thrèanadh le uncail mus deach a thogail don arm. Bha e ainmeil airson a sheasamh daonndach le a shaighearan, na h-ùr-ghnàthachasan aige ann an trèanadh armailteach agus airson diùltadh uabhasan a choileanadh aig àm mùchaidh air an Reabhlaid Èireannaich.

George MacIntosh also had some equally important relatives. His son Charles quit his apprenticeship at the Cudbear works to focus on his interest in chemicals. He became a highly successful chemist and his experiments led to his invention of waterproof fabric (and the coat that bears his name), a bleaching powder and increased the efficiency of blast furnaces.

His nephew Sir John Moore, whose statue stands in George Square was a great Napoleonic military hero. As a youth he was apprenticed as a clerk in the office of Cudbear factory, where he was trained by his uncle before joining the army. He was famed for his humane attitude to his troops, for his innovations in military training, and for refusing to commit atrocities during the suppression of the Irish Rebellion.