GLASGOW and shopping are inextricably linked.

For years, the city has been crowned retail capital of the country and its ‘style mile’ heritage is mirrored in our business records here at Glasgow City Archives.

Particularly well represented in our collections are the records of notable emporium Copland & Lye.

As shopping developed into a pleasurable pastime throughout the early 20th century, this grand department store maximised on this by offering departments full of wares in opulent surroundings.

Glasgow Times:

Founded in Cowcaddens in 1873 by William Copland and John Lye, within five short years the store had expanded to the grand Italianate Caledonian House on Sauchiehall Street - Glasgow’s equivalent to Bond Street, which was full of upmarket department stores.

Copland’s specialised in two things: superior customer service and dressmaking. The store brought the latest Parisian fashions to Glasgow at quick speed; with style savvy Glaswegians waiting only a couple of days to purchase.

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The partnership lasted just over a decade, ending with Copland’s death in 1884. Lye continued in a period of sole ownership until his death in 1889. Lye had been an experienced draper and inventor, developing and patenting a new method for fastening gloves in the 1890s. Upon his death, his son, William John Lye, partnered with Robert Ogg to continue the business.

Glasgow Times:

Eventually, Caledonian House was renovated and extended. In 1918, Copland & Lye was incorporated as a private limited company which celebrated its jubilee in 1923.

Its departments ranged from millinery to music, homeware to haberdashery and fashion to furniture.

In 1909, a successful ‘Restaurant de Luxe’ was added along with a tea room with music provided by the Caledonian House Orchestra.

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A hairdressing and beauty salon ensured Copland & Lye became a one stop shop for Glasgow’s retail enthusiasts. At its peak, the company, which started with only 20 staff, employed around 400. Photographs in our collection reveal most employees had more than 30 years service. Delivery drivers were also employed and patrons could shop via catalogues - very popular at Christmas time, when the store also staged a renowned festive window display.

Glasgow Times:

The store closed in 1971, but part of it remains.

Its clock, originally installed in 1952 and housed on a fourth floor turret, was moved to Milngavie town centre by the Ogg family who opened a dress shop there.

A permanent feature of the stylish Victorian Glaswegian’s shopping trip, Copland’s legacy and fashions live on, preserved in the business records held at Glasgow City Archives.