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Whytock and Reid

Whytock and Reid were the premier cabinet makers and upholsterers in Edinburgh for nearly 200 years. The company began in 1807, when Richard Whytock established his Edinburgh based haberdashery selling drapery and textiles. Some twenty years later John Reid, a master cabinet maker and upholsterer, started his own company in Ayrshire. In 1876 the Reids partnered with Whytock & Co to create Whytock, Reid & Co based in George Street, Edinburgh. Not long after this the Whytock family withdrew from the company following bereavement.

In 1885 the cabinetworks site was built in Belford Mews, and this became the premises for the company for the next 120 years. It was here that they would be based most memorably alongside the company offices and onetime showroom at 7 Charlotte Square, Edinburgh. The company was famed for its quality products, and they were known to season wood in giant Baltic pine timber stores for 20 years before use. Across the years, a distinctive ‘Whytock and Reid style’ developed of furniture pieces that could almost pass as antiques.

In 1966 a fellow Scottish based furniture making company, Scott Morton Ltd, went into receivership. The company was renowned for its quality, design and of course the invention of ‘Tynecastle Tapestry’, a method of moulding canvas to create the effect of embossed leather reminiscent of the fifteenth and sixteenth century Spanish and Italian designs for wall hangings. Whytock and Reid purchased the ‘good will’ of the company and Scott Morton Ltd’s current director and designer, Peter Miller, was employed by the company until his retirement. With this move, Whytock and Reid were able to use Scott Morton Ltd designs and also their connections and clients.

In 2004 Whytock and Reid closed its doors, leaving behind a prestigious legacy, with five generations of the Reid family at the helm. The company held a Royal Warrant for over 150 years, which it received from Queen Victoria in 1838. They remain and are remembered as one of Edinburgh’s foremost furniture makers. As Belford Mews caretaker James Shanley recalls ‘I was often asked in for a cup of tea when delivering orders, just so the neighbours would see the Whytock and Reid van on the drive’.

You can view material from the collection through Canmore and in the RCAHMS public search room, although prior arrangement is needed to access some materials from the collection. In our series of galleries you can see images of some of the visually stunning designs produced by the company and craftsmen at work in Belford Mews workshop, as well as hear the memories of employees and the Reid family.