Caird (Dundee) Ltd

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Caird (Dundee) Ltd

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Edward Caird, founder of the Caird business, was born in Montrose in 1806 and began the manufacture of cloth in a 12-loom shed at Ashton Works, Dundee, in 1832. He was one of the first to weave cloth composed of jute warp and weft and, as the use of the new textile became popular, his business expanded. Edward Caird died in 1889, although his son, James Key Caird, had already taken over the running of Ashton Works in 1870. He was to direct the fortunes of the firm of Cairds for the next forty years. Under James Caird's management the Ashton Works was re-built and equipped with the most modern plant. In 1905, he took over the Craigie Works, which had until then supplied much of his yarn and was now to supplement his production of cloth. Two years later Caird acquired property adjoining the Ashton Works to permit further expansion, and in 1908 perhaps the most modern jute spinning-mill of the time was started. Ashton and Craigie Works were among the largest and best-equipped jute works in Dundee, employing 2,000 hands. The company was the first to introduce a War bonus, an example soon followed by other spinners and manufacturers in the city and in 1916, Caird's mills contained 14,000 spindles and 1,000 looms. By the press and middle-classes, Caird was considered a good employer who "aimed at making his establishment not only efficient from a working point of view, but also a model of comfort for the workers" (Dundee Advertiser, March 1916). He was also a noted benefactor and between 1895 and 1914 gave £240,940 in donations to institutions and organisations within and outside Dundee. James Key Caird was awarded a baronetcy in 1913 and died in 1916.


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