Five facts about...Sir Thomas Lipton

1 World famous tea merchant, charitable entrepreneur and keen sailor Sir Thomas Lipton said the secret of his success was selling the best goods at the cheapest prices, harnessing the power of advertising, and always being optimistic. His legendary advertising stunts – such as parading pigs up the high street to giant billboards proclaiming ‘Lipton is coming’ - created a stir of excitement around his business.

Read more: Gorbals businessman to global superstar - the Thomas Lipton story

2 Born in a Gorbals slum in 1848, Lipton went from rags to riches, brushing shoulders with the wealthy elite of Glasgow. His parents had moved from Fermanagh in Ireland to Glasgow in the 1840s, setting up a small grocery shop on Crown Street in the Gorbals.

Glasgow Times:

2 However, in 1864 at the age of 16, he began his first real adventure as a cabin boy onboard a steamship to Belfast. The crew on the ship told Lipton of their adventures, especially those to the US. Lipton used his wages from the steamer company to buy passage on a ship to America.

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3 He spent five years working across the country, working on a tobacco plantation in Virginia, a rice plantation in South Carolina and a farm in New Jersey. He moved to New York and worked in a department store called A T Stewart’s. The experience inspired him to return to Glasgow to run his own grocery business in 1871. Through selling mainly tea, Lipton’s became a household name and he became a multi-millionaire.

Glasgow Times:

4 In 1928 in New York, a dinner was held to pay tribute to pioneers of American industry – the people who shaped American business life. Seated at the top table were Thomas Edison, George Eastman (founder of Kodak), tyre tycoon Harvey Firestone, Henry Ford – and Thomas Lipton.

Glasgow Times:

5 One of his most enduring relationships, though he never married, was with William Love, with whom he lived for 30 years. Lipton died in 1931 and he is buried in the Southern Necropolis in the Gorbals.