Thomson’s Carriage Works 

Today’s object from the Stirling Smith collections is an advertising card for the firm of George Thomson, Carriage Builder, issued at the Edinburgh International Industrial Exhibition of 1886 and showing two of his carriages. It is a recent gift to the collections from Mrs Jane Millar.

advertising card for the firm of George Thomson, Carriage Builder

The firm of George Thomson started in the Craigs in the early 1800s, in a small way, and grew to become a major employer within a significant industry in Stirling. By the time when the business passed to the second generation, Thomson had forged a partnership with the Glasgow firm of Buchanan and moved to large purpose built premises in Orchard Place. Thomson used each of the great exhibitions – London in 1851 and 1862, Dublin in 1865, Edinburgh in 1886, to extend his market and output. An addition to the coach works in 1860 was a show room housing 100 carriages.

Thomson exported not only his vehicles throughout the Empire; many of his former apprentices and journeymen set up their own businesses in Australia, Canada and India.

Thomson built many of the first railway carriages in the 1850s. With the advent of motor vehicles, the firm diversified into building cars to order and by 1908, the grandson of the founder, James Thomson, was also Provost of Stirling.


  1. REPLY
    Margaret Ann Thomson says

    George Thomson’s grandson, George Thomson, is my grandfather. The Thomson families appreciate our Stirling heritage and encourage anyone with memories to contact – our family tree is on and is public – the Thomson Family Tree — please email. Thanks to the Smith for the warmest of welcomes to all members of our family who have the opportunity to visit; we look forward to sharing more of our family’s history with Stirling and the Smith. George’s father, John Thomson was also a Stirling Provost. George’s grandson, John “Ian” Thomson, pilot, died in service during WWI; his name is on the obelisk not far from the Smith. Thank you to the Smith, to Stirling, and to Scotland for ensuring that our family’s Scottish heritage will always be there for our heirs to understand and to appreciate in generations to come.

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