1. AT  this time of year, Times Past likes to remember festive shopping in Glasgow’s department stores of yesteryear, of which Wylie Hills on Buchanan Street was a favourite.

The man behind it, Robert Wylie Hill, was born in Glasgow in 1851 into a very well-connected city dynasty. His grandfather, Robert, and great-uncle, William Lochhead, were partners in another famous Glasgow house furnishings store (and undertaker) Wylie and Lochhead. 

Glasgow Times:

2. Robert and his sister Margaret both married in to the wealthy Paisley textile manufacturing family the Rowats, whose famous members included Jessie Rowat, embroidery designer, who married Glasgow School of Art director Francis Newbery. Robert married Jessie’s cousin Isabella Muir Rowat.

3. In 1880, Robert opened his American and Continental Stores at 343 Argyle Street. He imported woodenware, basket goods, carpet brooms, mangles and more and according to Glasgow University’s Mackintosh Architecture archive website, in 1884, had a ‘large new iron sailing ship trading with Australia’. In 1883 he and his brother operated from Buchanan Street as R Wylie Hill & Co. They were clients of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Glasgow Times:

4. In 1888 a terrible fire almost destroyed the Buchanan Street store (it was commemorated in a poem by William McGonagall.) The rebuilt store had a pond in the toy department to demonstrate mechanical ship-models, and sold everything from enamelled kitchenware to Indian-grown, own-brand tea.

5. Robert bought the 1700-acre Balthayock Estate in Glencarse, near Perth, in 1894 and became a prizewinning cattle breeder. He was a patron of Glasgow Boy E A Walton, whose portrait of Robert’s daughter, Muriel, was exhibited in Dundee in 1896. Hill retired in 1925 and died suddenly in May 1939, aged 89 years.