28 Nov

Smoking Is Bad For Your Health But Good For Your Fortune?

Allanna Brough, Archive

This may cause offense to some people or cause others to have an attack of the vapours but, when I was a small child I didn’t like Meccano and I had no interest in Lego or other construction type toys. So when I began the research for the two companies who supplied the steelwork and roof for the Picture House, I assumed that it would be very dull, dry and very boring work.

I actually uncovered quite an amusing story…

Bladen & Co provided the steelwork for the Picture House and were paid a total of one hundred and six pounds, four shillings and sixpence. Harold Foster Bladen had founded the company in 1892 in Glasgow. Throughout his career, Harold was listed as: a structural engineer, iron strut merchant, iron and steel merchant, structural steel merchant and chief engineering draughtsman. By 1912, Harold had property in Glasgow and London and his Girder Works Company was located at Parkhead.

That wasn’t the amusing bit…

In the Accounts Ledger of the Picture House, F.G Price is listed as Slater and was paid a total of fifty seven pounds, two shillings and nine pence.

After some investigation, I discovered the history behind this Glasgow based company:

Frank George Symmonds Price began his early career as a Civil Engineer in India. His work involved bridge building and structural engineering, which included using corrugated iron roofing. At that time, the problem with fitting corrugated roofing was the making of the holes where the bolts attached the sheets to the structure watertight.

The family story goes that one day, Frank was having a cigarette and he rolled the metal foil from the cigarette packet into a ball and then pressed it flat into a disc shape. A flexible disc…this was Frank’s eureka moment! He realised that if a hole could be made in such a disc and a flange was made around the hole, then it would become a flexible washer which could be fitted to the bolt in the corrugated sheet and it would adapt to the shape of the corrugation and therefore made a watertight seal.

So, in 1905, Frank invented and patented the “Limpet Washer” which earned him approximately £1000 per year. This change in fortune allowed Frank to bring his family back to Scotland.

In 1906, Frank established his company, “F.G Price & Co” as Merchants and Agents in Glasgow. In 1912, the company was at 53 Waterloo Street in Glasgow, listed as “Patent Fire Proof Partitions” and also “Limpet Washers for Corrugated Iron Roofing”.

Frank George Symmonds Price died in 1930, leaving an Estate worth £31,718.18


Picture Source: Accounts Ledger, Buildings Account 1912 – 1913.

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