WILLIAMSON MODELS

(with thanks to Eastbank Model Railway Club)

The one shop that had the most famous or must be stated, infamous reputation throughout the Glasgow area was Williamson Models. This shop was located at 89 Cambridge Street near Hill Street. Although the name above the shop stated Williamson Models, nobody ever referred to the shop by that name. It was always called Glassford's after the proprietor.

The shop seemed to stock everything from engineering supplies and bits and pieces for live steam both railway and marine, Meccano parts and all the usual railway models from Tri-ang Railways, Hornby Dublo 2 and 3 rail, Trix Twin and even some other more obscure models of foreign origin. It was usually quite difficult to see your intended purchase as the stock was all arranged in a most untidy and haphazard manner.

Once you had decided what you would like to purchase, it was cabaret time. The proprietor, Jimmy Glassford, was notorious for his implementation of his unique style of customer relations. In fact it could have been said that he instructed Basil Fawlty in achieving his prowess. If you were unable to respond quickly to his demeaning insults, it would be most embarrassing not only to yourself but also to all the other customers present.

"What do you want?" was the usual opening gambit. "Do you see one?" A yes or no, it did not matter as there would then be a tirade of muttered grumbling and insults as he attempted to find the said item amongst the entire randomly arranged inventory. On finding the item and handing over of the payment, the final comment was "Do you want a poke?" This was not an offer of what is known as a Glasgow kiss or a gratuitous violent assault however although it did sometimes seem that way. Be assured, a poke is a Scottish word for a paper bag.

Despite all this dubious in shop entertainment the shop was always busy and especially so on a Saturday. Not only would the shop be full of nervous and apprehensive customers, a sometimes quite substantial queue would form along Cambridge Street waiting for admission. There was of course no Sunday trading in those days.

Besides the somewhat eccentric proprietor, the shop had some other unique properties. The stock was comprehensive but more importantly, there was also a considerable amount of pre owned items available which were not available anywhere else. Remember at this time retailers only dealt with new stock supplied by the major manufacturers such as Meccano or Lines Brothers and of course everything had to be sold at full retail price due to the retail price maintenance agreement which guaranteed prices were identical at every shop. It seems difficult to imagine but at this time there were no swapmeets to visit to find those out of production items.

It would seem that Williamson Models or J. Glassford ceased trading sometime in the late 1970's or early 1980's. The premises are now occupied by a ladies hairdressers named Fusco's. Whether Mr. Glassford retired to become a permanent resident at Fawlty Towers is not known.


I well remember the owner of Glassford's being a real grumpy old sod who gave you the impression that he was doing you a favour serving you! (Supplementary information supplied by Alan W.)