Retailing to and from India

Edinburgh shops selling to and buying from India

Shops in the New and Old Towns sold spices, Indian cottons and tea -- but they also supplied customers across the Empire, including India. ‘Foreign and Colonial Outfitters,’ a still-visible sign on the former Forsyth’s store is one example.  Shops in Princes Street, George Street and the North and South Bridges sold carpets, rhododendrons or cashmere underwear as well as Melrose’s Teas (93 George Street). An Edwardian trade directory listed over 50 Edinburgh businesses exporting goods to India.

An Edwardian (1905?) business directory, lists several dozen Edinburgh businesses who have (or at least for advertising purposes claim to have) links of buying or selling from/to India. It is an impressive testimony of the then diversity of Princes and George Street retailing and well as the reach this had to loyal customers abroad:

Messrs. Henry, Darling & Co. - Silk and clothes merchant

124, 124A & 123, Princes Street, Edinburgh

Silk and clothes merchant, Gloves, gown etc.

Client's drawn from highest circles also in India

Messrs J. & W. Hardie - Trade in Scottish whisky

4 Picardy Place

Trade in Scottish whisky, "Antiquary"

The taste for "Antiquary" whisky is becoming every year more widely disseminated in distant quarters of the globe increasing quantities being exported by the proprietors to the US, Argentina, China, India, Egypt, Canada, Australia and SA

Supplied in boxes of a dozen bottles.

Messrs. A. Ballantine & Son - Stained glass makers

42 George Street,

Stained glass makers

Found in many other parts of the empire

Messrs. R. Grieve & Co. - High class furnishings

83 George Street

High class furnishings, Oriental carpets

Mr D.W. Thompson - Seeds man and nursery men

113, George Street

Seeds man and nursery men

“Rhododendrons from India”

Mr. John Young Myrtle Export of wine and spirits

26 & 28 Elbe Street Leith

Export of wine and spirits, "Glen Royal" Whisky since 1877

It is a prime favourite in India and the colonies

“Exporting to India and New Zealand direct”

Messrs. John Kirkhope & Sons - Wine and spirits trade

22 Queensferry Street

Wine and spirits trade

“Exports trade extends to India, Australia and New Zealand”

Messrs McCrae Ltd - High class hatter, hosier and shirt maker

115 Princes Street

High class hatter, hosier and shirt maker; “Specialties are the pure Indian cashmere underwear veritable underwear de luxe

The spun silk underwear and the "Sikha" underwear, the last-named being made of selected raw material from India and Australia, the ideal of comfort hygene and durability at a reasonable price

Numerous customers in India etc.”

Messrs. T. Lugton & Son - Boot makers

95 Princes Street

Boot makers

“Orders being regularly received from India etc.”

Messrs. William Anderson & Sons - Clothiers and military outfitters

14, George Street

Clothiers and military outfitters; Colonial outfits for all climatic conditions another very important item in product line

“Order received by post from clients in India and all the colonies”

(Anon (Edinburgh Trade), 1905?, p. 75)

Messrs. James Waller & Sons - Linen fabrics

41 George Street

Linen fabrics

“Goods are frequently sent to India etc.”

Messrs. J.W. Mackie & Sons Ltd. - Bread cakes biscuits and confectionery

108 Princes Street

Bread cakes biscuits and confectionery

“The firm sends their "Edinburgh Shortbread" to all parts of the world, the latest in 1904 to Thibet.

They have organised their export department to meet the enormously increased demand from areas such as India and the colonies.”

Messrs. J.H. Rogers & Co. - Saddlers and harness makers

117 George Street

Saddlers and harness makers

“Have greatly developed their post order business particularly in India and China”

Robert McDowell & Sons - Bakers, cooks and confectioners

60 George Street

Bakers, cooks and confectioners; They are practically world famous for their shortbread

“Exported to India, Ceylon, Straits Settlements, China, Siam, Australia etc.”

Specially packed for transit in elegant tins, sizes ranging from half a crown in price to one guinea

Robert Cockburn & Co.- Grocer

51 Frederick Street

Grocer; Stocks a complete range of teas

“business extended to India etc.”

William Sim - Wool and fancy warehouse

72 George Street

Wool and fancy warehouse

“Frequent orders by post from India etc.”

George D. Craig - Gentlemen's high class tailoring and mercery

109 George Street

Gentlemen's high class tailoring and mercery; Sporting outfits a speciality

“Regular clients in India etc.”

J. J. Hay - saddlers

38 Hanover Street

“saddles for the officers of the Edinburgh garrisons and send out to India etc. “

James Dow & Son - Gentlemen's outfitting

29 Princes Street

Gentlemen's outfitting

“Customers in India, Ceylon, Strait Settlements “

J. Summers & Sons - Bakers, cooks and confectioners

133 Princes Street and 101 Shandwick Place

Bakers, cooks and confectioners

“Products sent frequently to India “

Stark Brothers - Robe makers, Ladies tailoring, shirtmakers, hatters etc.

7, 8, 9 South Bridge

Robe makers, Ladies tailoring, shirtmakers, hatters etc. "The Kalos" pulpit robe is a speciality

“Customers in India, Egypt, US and the colonies”

Mr. James D. Gall - High class boots and shoes

13 Melville Place, Queensferry Street

High class boots and shoes

“Business through ports to India, the Straits Settlements etc. “

John Mackay & Co. Ltd. - Manufacturing chemist and aerated water manufacturer

Canning Street

Manufacturing chemist and aerated water manufacturer; Flavouring essences; gelatine; "Sparkling Kola"

“Extensive trade to Australia, India and China direct and to many other places through shippers”

W.P. Nimmo, Hay & Mitchell - Publishing

Clyde Street

Publishing cheap literature of the best class; Hugh Miller's works; School prizes and presentation books

"Empire Library" 2s 6d per volume for 101 volumes of biography fiction romance and travel

“They export to India, Canada and US as well as having an agent in Australia”

Hugh Roos & Son - Drapery

1, 3 &5 Nicolson Street

Drapery, Mainly linen

“They have many correspondents even as far away as India and the colonies”

G.&J. Clark - Tailoring and gentlemen's outfitting

53 George IV Bridge

Tailoring and gentlemen's outfitting

“They supply numerous correspondents in India etc. “

R. & G. Hay - Wine and scotch dealers and blenders

7 & 8 Huntly Street

Wine and scotch dealers and blenders

"Glenhuntly" Whisky

“Connections with India”

W. & J. Inglis - High class boots and shoes

16 Queensferry Street

High class boots and shoes

“Correspondents in India”

James Dove & Co. - Engineering

Greenside Lane

Engineering; Fire engines and fire apparatus; Lighthouse work

“Sent lighthouse equipment, buoys etc. to India, Japan, NZ etc.”

Brewers and distiller equipment

Charles Robertson- Weighing machines

93 Pleasance

Iron foundry and engineering; Weighing machines

“Large numbers of the carter bullock weighing machines are sent to India for use in native bazaars. These are adapted for both English and Indian weights as also are the machines specially made for Indian merchants.”

P. Waterston & Co - Lampmakers

15 Frederick Street


The Kranzow safetly lamp

“1904: 2000 were sold many to as far away as India and Singapore”

Peter Boa - Pharmacy

119 George Street

49 Ashley Terrace

Pharmacy; Cod Liver Oil emulsion and Petroleum Emulsion

“Increasing orders from India”

G.G. Henderson - House furnishing

71 George Street

House furnishing; Indian curtains, Indian and Turkish embroideries

Turkish and Persian rugs

The Veda Food Company Ltd. - Bread, flour, oat items

34 North Bridge

Bread, flour, oat items; Health food with a view to digestibility

“Customers in India etc. have already noticed the merits of Veda products”


Anon (Edinburgh Trade) (1905?): Period Reign of Edward VII. London and Edinburgh. The English and Scottish Capitals. Representatives of Art, Industries and Commerce at the Beginning of the Twentieth century. London: Biographical Publishing Company.