Cowie Brothers, Glasgow

I have found various ‘Cowie Bros’ stamped brick at the Hurll, Gartliston Works.

I have been contacted by John Napper, a family member of Charles Rennie Cowie who states  “my great grandfather was Charles Rennie Cowie (1851-1922), who founded Cowie Bros, trading between the UK (specifically Glasgow) and Burma.  The connection with Hurll bricks was that Charles Cowie’s youngest sister Jessie (1862-1931), married Mark Hurll (1849-1928), the founder of P&M Hurll, in 1888, so presumably, the bricks stamped Cowie Bros were manufactured at the Hurll works (although I have no definite knowledge of this).  Mark Hurll died in Hillswick Shetland, while on a fishing holiday in 1928 of a heart attack.”

The above convinces me that the Cowie-marked bricks are indeed Scottish and a product of the Gartliston/Garnqueen works.

Link to Cowie bricks

The Cowie Brothers Company was a huge exporting business based in Glasgow. They seemed to have exported anything that was made in the city and adorned their name to the goods. I believe they have added their name to these refractory bricks for selling on.

Family info – On 17th December 1878 at Forkneuk Farm, Uphall, Grace Purdie married Charles Rennie Cowie, a manager with the Rangoon Oil Company.  Charles, the 7th of 12 children, was born in Falkirk in 1851. By 1884, Charles was no longer with the Rangoon Oil Company. He was now described as an East India Merchant.

Charles Rennie Cowie

He, along with brothers Archibald and James, formed Cowie Brothers & Co, a company of exporters based in Glasgow.
Charles Rennie Cowie died at 62 Partickhill Road, Glasgow on 18th November 1922.
Grace Purdie died in the same house 7 years later on 9th November 1929.
They are buried in the Western Necropolis Cemetery, Glasgow.


Cowie brothers advert

1887 – Cowie’s patent cement or artificial stone – For Millstones, Rice Hullers, Emery Wheels. We beg to bring before your notice our Patent Composition for Millstones, etc. It is now being used extensively and exclusively in most of the Rice Mills of Burma and Siam, where it has superseded Millstones. We have recently introduced it into Barley and Oatmeal Mills in Great Britain, and it has been found to work quite as successfully at in Rice Mills. A layer of the Cement? in. thick will last from 50 to 150 working days, depending on the care with which it has been applied, and the nature of the work done. We ask you to give our Composition a trial, as we are confident it will be found to give every satisfaction, and we are prepared to guarantee our Composition. For prices and full particulars apply to Cowie Bros, & Co., 59, St. Vincent Ss., Glasgow. Steel manufacturers.

16/11/1895 – Glasgow Herald – The following Companies were registered in Edinburgh during the past week – 3039 – The Cleghorn Terra Cotta Co Ltd established with a capital of £25,000 divided into 2500 shares of £10 each, to carry out an agreement with Mark Hurll, brick manufacturer, Glasgow and to carry on the business of manufacturers and sellers of bricks, tiles, terracotta goods etc. The registered office is at 95 Bath Street, Glasgow. The subscribers are Robert M Wilson, Coalmaster, Glasgow. James S Dixon, Engineer, Glasgow; E.F Duvoisin, fireclay manufacturer, Glasgow, Charles R Cowie, merchant, Glasgow; Alexander Hurll, merchant, Glasgow; Charles Russell, iron merchant, Glasgow; John Fullarton, do.

1896 – 1897 –  Govan, William (at Cowie Bros. & Co.’s), Ho. 79 West-End Park Street.

1905 – 1906

Cowie Brothers & Co., merchants (export), 20 Blythswood Square.

Cowie Bros. & Co., stores, 184a West George Lane, entering from Douglas Street.

Cowie, Chas. R., of Cowie Bros. & Co.; Residence, Woodend House, Partickhill.

Cowie, Thomas R, (of Cowie Bros. & Co., 20 Births- wood sq.), Ho. Garnkirk House, Chryston.


Cowie Archibald, merchant (Cowie Bros. & Co.), Barrs, Cardross

Cowie Charles R. merchant (Cowie Brothers & Co.), Woodend House, Partickhill


Below – 28/11/1922 – The Straits Times, Page 8

death of Charles Rennie Cowie

1936 – 1937 – Cowie Brothers & Co., merchants (export), 20 Blythswood Square C.2; tel. No., 3434 Central. Cowie Bros. & Co., stores, 184 West George Lane, (entering from Douglas Street).

Information on steam engines used in Malaysia  – Cowie Brothers, Glasgow, Scotland (these also used their own number series), they issued comprehensive catalogues of everything under the sun as Chas (= Charles) Cowie, Rangoon at least up till 1937 and presumably until the Japanese invasion. ( My note – I would love to see one of these catalogues!)

… and another steam engine / Cowie agent reference

Cowie Bros. Co, Glasgow, provided the iron posts of the portico of the former Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank (now the Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank) and also the cast-iron steps of the spiral staircase of the red brick building on Bank Street.

Below  – an example of a steam engine bearing the Cowie name  and

Cowie brothers steam engine

Below – Cowie brothers also exported pottery etc and used the trademark below.

Cowie brothers pottery stamp


Cowie trade mark


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