Pollokshields Heritage History

John Blair (1817-1886)

Commissioned The Knowe, 301 Albert DriveThe Knowe

Blair was one of Greek Thomson’s earliest patrons. Born on 16th August 1817 in Mearns, John Blair made the move to Glasgow aged twenty. By 1845 he was already established in a hat and cap factory on Trongate. He specialised in the production of satin and tweed hats, scotch bonnets and cloth caps but he desired to capture the widest possible market and his warehouse at 34 Howard Street (also commissioned from Greek Thomson but now demolished) stocked a variety of associated garments such as umbrellas, waterproof coats, oil garments, leather and carpet bags, scarfs, braces, collars, stays, hosiery and shirts. But it was his hats, produced on the top floor of his warehouse that brought world-wide fame. Unlike many of his generation who became involved in civic affairs John Blair’s main interest outside of work was the church. He was an elder of Dowanhill Church from 1847-57 and a founding member of the Pollok Street United Presbyterian Church of which he later became treasurer and ruling elder. He was also a member of the Govan Parochial Board. He made investments in railways, Young’s Paraffin Light and Mineral Oil Company and the Tharsis Sulphur and Copper Company Ltd.