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Modern Times: 1950s to The Present Day

Industry and Technology

Food, Drink and Tobacco

By Ian Donnachie

Labelling White Horse Although manufacturing employment in general shrank during this period, the city retained important food processing and drink industries. In 1953 food, drink and tobacco accounted for more than six per cent of the city’s total workforce, the largest manufacturing sector apart from the heavy industries. Consequently it was dominated by women workers engaged in confectionery, biscuit and tobacco production; employed on bottling lines in dairies, breweries and distilleries and in packaging in factories.

Wellpark Brewery

Despite the economic fluctuations and substantial restructuring from the 1960s onwards, the drink industries have continued to prosper. Tennent's had pioneered beer canning in 1935 and by 1954 were switching to the American flat-top can. The cans became an instant success and were soon carrying scenic views and recipes prior to the first appearance in 1962 of the famous Tennent's girls, the "Lager Lovelies" who, in various poses, lasted until the 1990s. By then, despite the return of cask-conditioned ales, over half of the Scottish beer market was lager and a high proportion of that produced at Tennent's Wellpark Brewery.

Apart from whisky blending and bottling, another major success story was mineral water production, notably that of the famous Glasgow firm, Barr, whose Irn Bru enjoyed enormous success in export markets, particularly in Eastern Europe and Russia.

Annick Street Industrial Estate

By 2000, employment in food products and beverages was declining, but Glasgow was still home to many enterprising firms whose origins and products could be traced back through the generations. In addition to this, the city and surrounding area, particularly North Lanarkshire, had a large concentration of retail parks and distribution centres for food and related products. Storage and distribution services had become as important as the manufacture of food and drink products.


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