I began my apprenticeship as a cabinet maker at what was then the West of Scotland cabinet works in Beith. However, it was always known as Balfour’s. Most of the cabinet works in Beith made dining room and bedroom furniture and it is often said that it was a great shame that they didn’t get together and make furniture that was different from one another, rather than compete. Stevenson and Higgins were renowned for kitchen type chairs and as early as 1905 they were exporting lift cabinets to Australia. The boardroom table in Glasgow Chamber of Commerce was made by Macneill Brothers. It is a magnificent walnut table with matching walnut chairs. It will seat about 24 people and the burr walnut used for the top came from President Jackson’s Estate in the USA, so this also adds to the interest of that particular piece of furniture.
The pulpit in Trinity Church in Beith is a good example of craftsmanship at its very best. It is made in oak and the carving and cabinet work on the pulpit is of the highest standard.
The furniture manufacturer, Avalon a British company based in the town of Yatton, Somerset also made furniture under the names of Wake & Dean and Yatton Furniture.
‘In the olden days most of the inhabitants of Yatton would have been employed in agriculture. At the time of the Industrial Revolution a furniture factory was established, initially manufacturing church pews and school desks.
The successor to this company, Avalon furniture, closed in 1985, throwing many people out of work.’