Alexander Mathieson & Son, Ltd., Saracen Tool Works


 

     

 

 
 

 

Alexander Mathieson was born in 1797 and in the 1841 census was described as a master planemaker.  Also listed at 38 Saracen Lane was his son, Thomas, aged 15, described as a journeyman planemaker. 

The impression given is that by the 1840ís, although having traded for 20 years, the business had not grown that much.  The expansion only really started with the arrival of the second generation.  Perhaps the time was ripe with a rapidly growing industrial city (i.e. Glasgow) and the improved transport facilities of the mid-19th Century. 

Mathieson seems to have been expanded not only by internal growth but also by a series of acquisitions; first taking over J&W Stewart, the principal planemaker in Edinburgh (1849), followed by the J. Dryburgh business in Dundee (1853/54) and eventually David Malloch of Perth (1913).  The Dundee Works were managed by James Lumsden from 1867-1870.

From evidence of surviving planes, Mathieson were probably the most prolific British planemaker of all time.  At the end of the century the business was making a wide range of tools for most trades being particularly strong in some of the heavier trades (especially coopering and ship building). 

The Eighth Edition catalogue (1899) illustrated the comprehensive range of planes available.  Mathieson introduced model numbers for planes by 1899 and planes marked with these numbers date from the late 19th or early 20th Century.

Wooden planemaking had largely ended during World War II and by the late 1950ís the demand for traditional tools was much reduced.  The firm did however have a large export trade in heavy duty auger bits widely used throughout the world for boring railway sleepers. 

For this reason, Mathieson was acquired by William Ridgway in 1957 and transferred to Sheffield where they eventually became a dormant subsidiary of Record-Ridgway Tools Ltd.
 

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