Records of John Laird & Son Ltd, printing, packaging and paper bag manufacturers, Glasgow, Scotland

Scope and Content

  • Minutes 1936-1967
  • Annual accounts and reports 1931-1975
  • Trading schedules 1970-1975
  • Travellers' booklets 1953-1957
  • Stockbook 1952-1962
  • Correspondence 1965-1966
  • Memorandum and articles of association for E S & A Robinson Ltd 1929

The collection also includes the annual reports and accounts for the following associated companies:

  • Donaldson & Filer Ltd 1966, 1967
  • Havopak Ltd 1964, 1966, 1967
  • J & J Murdoch Ltd 1967

Administrative / Biographical History

John Laird & Son was established in 1874  in Glasgow, Scotland. The firm was incorporated in 1911  as John Laird & Son Ltd . Having started as a family business of merchants, the company gradually expanded into manufacture. By 1918, the company was manufacturing a wide range of packaging for industry including cartons, rigid boxes, corrugated cases, waxed paper, laminated papers, paper bags, film bags and reels and corrugated grease-proof packages. A major customer of the company was the Scottish Whisky industry for whom they supplied boxes and labels.

In 1918  , E S & A Robinson Ltd , paper and bag manufacturers, Bristol, England, acquired the firm. This company had been established in 1844 by Elisha Smith Robinson. In In 1848  , Elisha's younger brother, Alfred joined the business, and the business became known as E S & A Robinson . In 1869,  Elisha's son Edward joined the business. It was Edward who helped establish the business's export trade. In 1873  Elisha brought for £1,000 the British patent rights covering a gusseted, or satchel, bag making machine. The introduction of this machine revolutionised the bag making industry and helped the Robinson's consolidate their position as leaders in the industry. Elisha died in 1885  , and his son Edward succeeded him. In 1893  , the firm of E S & A Robinson Ltd was incorporated as a limited liability company to acquire the business of E S & A Robinson.

E S & A Robinson Ltd and John Laird & Son Ltd had already had a friendly relationship, and the acquisition meant that Robinson's could expand into the Scottish market with factories north of the border.

John Laird & Son Ltd had a factory in the east end of Glasgow which was destroyed by fire in 1932. A new larger factory was opened nearby soon after in Carstairs Street, Dalmarnock. Laird's steadily expanding following the take over and by 1958 was employing around 1000 people, double the number it had employed in 1937. As well as provided the Scottish Whisky industry, the company also increased it export trade, dealing mainly with England and Northern Ireland.

John Laird & Son Ltd acquired Havelock Packaging Equipment Ltd , Glasgow, in 1964. This company was reformed as Havopack Ltd in the same year to manufacture special collapsible containers for liquids, powers and granules. Laird's also acquired the packaging firm of Donaldson & Filer Ltd , Glasgow, as a wholly owned subsidiary and managed J & J Murdoch Ltd , lithographers and label printers, Glasgow, acquired by E S & A Robinson Ltd in 1969  .

By 1960, E S & A Robinson Ltd operated nearly 20 subsidiary companies, with E S & A Robinson Ltd being the parent company as well as an operating company in its own right. In 1960, the company split these two functions, forming E S & A Robinson (Holdings) Ltd as the holding company to have financial control and provide services to the subsidiary companies, and E S & A Robinson Ltd as the trading arm of the company. It would appear that John Laird & Son Ltd and its subsidiary companies were wound-up some time after 1975  . E S & A Robinson Ltd was dissolved in 1998  .

The Robinson Group, A Short History of the E S & A Robinson Group (1965, Bristol)


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

Permanent loan : August 1986

Indefinite loan : November 1991 (Additional deposit)

Other Finding Aids

Digital file level list available in searchroom

Manual file level list available at the National Registers of Archives in Edinburgh (NRA(S)2943)

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 been appraised in line with standard GB 248 procedures

Custodial History



None expected

Related Material

GB 248 UGD 232/2 Records of J & J Murdoch Ltd

Material in other repositories: no material associated by provenance


No known publications using this material

Additional Information

This material is original

No alterations made to date

Geographical Names