Records of John Lean & Sons Ltd, 1840-1960, muslin and rayon manufacturers, Bridgeton, Glasgow

Scope and Content

  • Letterbooks 1852-1951;
  • Shipping ledgers 1854-1924;
  • Private ledgers 1854-1932;
  • Indent books - copy orders 1893-1926;
  • Wage book 1919-1941;
  • Cash books 1923-1951;
  • Journals 1924-1955;
  • Day books 1940-1952.

Administrative / Biographical History

The business was first established in  1840  by John Lean and his second son, Daniel. John Lean owned a drapers and general merchants shop in Lanark, South Lanarkshire, but when Daniel had completed his four year apprenticeship at a muslin warehouse in Glasgow, John left Lanark and father and son set up business in a rented warehouse in Wilson Street, Glasgow. For the first few years, they established themselves in buying and selling cloth, trading almost exclusively in home markets. In  1845  the Leans began to employ their own handloom weavers and in  1846  they moved to new, larger premises in Queen Street. By  1846 , they had begun to send regular consignments to India.

In  1847  , John Lean retired and his sons George and Daniel entered into full and equal partnership. George had responsibility for manufacturing and Daniel became the commercial head of the firm. 1849-50  saw a determined push into Indian markets and a marked increase in the scale of the business. Production was carried on at this stage by some 200-250 handloom weavers in the districts of Bridgeton, Carlton and Parkhead in Glasgow with outlying agencies in Larkhall, South Lanarkshire; Darvel, East Ayrshire; Eaglesham, East Renfrewshire; and Lisburn, Northern Ireland.

Between 1850 and 1854 , the Leans invested in new power driven looms to boost their capacity and moved again, this time to rented premises in Tobago Street. Planning then began for a major new investment in building. In  July 1857  , production began at their new weaving factory in Reid Street, Bridgeton. From  1861-1870 , their main markets switched from home to abroad, and particularly to India where they worked through agencies in several major cities but mainly Calcutta. Their Indian agents were the importers and exporters, Gladstone Wyllie & Co, a division of the larger company, Gladstone & Co of Liverpool.

During the  1860s  the business survived something of a crisis brought about by the events of the American Civil War and the Indian Mutiny, which disrupted both the importing of raw materials and the sale of finished goods. The company's registered office, was located at 144 Reid Street, Bridgeton, until  1960  when it went into liquidation.


This material is arranged into series, which consist of numbers of items related by format and/or function. Within series, the items are generally arranged chronologically

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Gift : John Lean & Sons Ltd, Glasgow : prior to 1966

Other Finding Aids

Digital file level list available in searchroom.

Manual file level list available at the National Registers of Archives in London (NRA21576)

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the University Archivist

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use & condition of documents

Appraisal Information

This material has not been appraised professionally

Custodial History

Records deposited with Economic History Department, Glasgow University, prior to 1966. Management of the collection transferred to Glasgow University Archives in 1975.


None expected

Related Material

See  source list on Textiles

Material in other repositories: no material associated by provenance

Location of Originals

This material is original


Slaven, A, , vol. 143'A Glasgow Firm in the Indian Market: John Lean & Sons, Muslin Weavers',Business History Review, (1969)

Additional Information

Scotland is the location of all place names in the administrative/biographical history element, unless otherwise stated.

Edited by Moira Rankin , Senior Archivist, 11 May 1998

Updated by Jenny Cooknell , Assistant Archivist, 11 October 1999

Updated by Lesley Richmond , Acting Director, 3 March 2000

Updated by Emma Yan, Assistant Archivist (Cataloguing), 23 January 2008