Wylie &Lochhead made its name manufacturing coffins during the cholera epidemic in 1832, but proceeded to gain a reputation in the 1870s with omnibuses and ocean-liners. We however, know them for their large firm functioning as coachbuilders and cabinetmakers. They were makers to Queen Victoria and furnishers of the royal suite at the Glasgow Exhibition in 1888.
Within this firm is a strong scope of designers including three heavily influential men that came from the Glasgow School; George Logan (1866-1939), John Ednie (1876-1934), and Ernest A. Taylor (1874-1951). Although designing within the firm as individual craftsmen, very few items of Wylie &Lochhead furniture are wholly attributed to one designer.
These three designers dominated the displays at the Glasgow International Exhibition in 1901 where they each had individual rooms. In doing this, they moved this Glasgow style south into London where they set up a permanent retailing base. Glasgow is said to have had the commercial motivation, visual awareness, teachers and craftsman. They retailed chairs and hall furniture from Baillie-Scottís manufacturers in Bedford, whilst sourcing Art Nouveau cabinets from London. It is difficult to say how long Wylie &Lochhead supplied Glasgow styled furniture, although it is predicted that it lasted close to seven years.
A trained cabinetmaker, he joined the company in 1882, working for Wylie &Lochhead until 1937 when he retired. Despite remaining in employment here, he did occasional freelance work for other manufacturers; Greenock Cabinetmaking Company. Besides his evident training, he was considered a fine watercolourist and musician, exploring how Ďthe secret of colour harmonies is with those whose hearts are betrothed to nature...í. His poetics, and considerations in his designs were obvious, but it was said that Ďabsolute comfortí was not always at the forefront of his ambitious furniture, although he pushed more in the direction of a favourable atmosphere than in the creation of imagery.
Ednie was considered far more conventional. Before joining W & L in 1900, he had done prior training with decorators Scott Morton. Similarly, it was the Glasgow International Exhibition that put Ednie on a platform, in which he presented his dining room. His career with W & L had a shorter life than Loganís for he embarked on a freelance career in 1906, where he continued to design for them, but others including Garvie& Son of Aberdeen. He is renowned for two specific interiors, located at Ashley Terrace in Edinburgh (his home) and one for Huntly Gardens in Glasgow. Both Ednie and Loganís work was intended to make a general appeal and fit into a middle-class home.
Ernest A. Taylor
Taylor did his training in a Clyde shipyard where he qualified as a draughtsman, in 1893/4, and later enrolled as a student at the Glasgow School of Art. As chief designer at Wylie &Lochhead, there was an element of responsibility regarding the maintenance of house style. Undergoing more commissions, he made furnishings for Robert Coats in Birmingham, for Lord Weir of Cathcart in Pollockshields. Taylorís most successful representation was at the Turin Exhibition in 1902 where he submitted two stained glass panels, two cabinets, a screen and a small table; here one could see the masterful combination of English and Scottish features.
His career fleeted towards being design-manager at George Wragge Ltd., as he relocated to Manchester in 1906, not least, his wife Jessie M. King had a creative flair, and continued to produce gesso panels, illustrations and interior decoration. It was recorded that the two collectively ran a fine art gallery in Paris from 1911 to 1914. Taylor, rather than designing, took up landscape painting and teaching in Kirkcudbright.
Researched and written by Tony Geering & Kristy Campbell.