Rag Merchants





Rod Barron

Sevenoaks, Kent, England

Thank you to Rod Barron who wrote:

Asa Wass'

"I was very interested to read Ken Miller's information on Asa Wass and the other messages and recollections regarding "rag and bone" men of the Dumbiedykes area of Edinburgh."

John Barron

"My great-great grandfather was called John Barron and, like Asa Wass, also came to Edinburgh from Yorkshire in about 1859/1860 and set up business in Edinburgh as a rag merchant.

I am told the business involved collecting "shoddy" which was then cleaned, sorted and packed up to be sent down by rail to mills in Morley, West Yorkshire, where it was recycled into new cheap-quality cloth, a lot of it for export."

1860s Onwards

"The family rag business in Edinburgh thrived under John, who died in the 1880's, his son Samuel Barron (b.1848), John's son-in-law Edwin Lawton, and for another couple of generations through to the period between the wars I believe.

In the 1861 the family are at 31 Blair Street. In 1871 John and family are at 6 Montague Street, where John (b.1824) is described as "Rag Merchant employing 18 men". The family business began to decline after WW1 I think primarily because one of the brothers was killed in the Somme and the other brothers took up business in other trades and professions."

Rod Barron, Sevenoaks, Kent:  March 1, 2007


Barron's Rag Merchants

Dumbiedykes Depot

"I am told that the business had a depot in the Dumbiedykes area of Edinburgh and wondered if anyone had any recollections of this.

I have not done much research on the location of the depot as yet, but it would be interesting to know if anyone has any recollections or memories of the Barron's depot.  Any assistance or feedback would be greatly appreciated"

Rod Barron, Sevenoaks, Kent:  March 1, 2007

If you can help to answer Rod's question, please e-mail me and I'll pass on your comments to Rod.

 Thank you.    - Peter Stubbs


Reply 1. to

Recollections 1.

Bob Sharp

Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada:

Thank you to Bob Sharp for sending his recollections.  Bob was in the Edinburgh Police from 1955 to 1967.  His beat included Dumbiedykes.

Bob wrote:

Barron's Rag Merchants

Dumbiedykes Depot

"I've just been passed this site today and was reading about the rag site.

I'm sure the property you are referring to was in (I believe it was called) Dumbiedykes Lane. When walking on Dumbiedykes Road towards Holyrood Road you turned right into the lane.  I remember it as really old property and a wee bit scary.

We used to work a beat on night shift from a police box on Dumbiedykes Road, across from Arthur Street, I think it was. The box was into the wall, right at a foot gate to the park.  This of course was all before any of the reconstruction.

The beat in question was '14 beat'.  It was strictly a night-shift beat and was part of the old '9 beat' which worked out of the police box at Simon Square on day shift."

Bob Sharp, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada:  February 19, 2008

Dumbiedykes Lane

I've checked the old maps.  Dumbiedykes Lane does not appear to be shown on the large-scale maps of Dumbiedykes on the EdinPhoto web site - 1915, 1925, 1940.

However, it can be found on the A1 'Geographia' Atlas and Guide to Edinburgh, published probably around 1950s.  The lane is where Bob Sharp describes it. to the east of Dumbiedykes Road, close to Holyrood Road.  It's to the north of the bowling greens in Dumbiedykes Road and SW of the two gas holders in Holyrood Road.

Peter Stubbs:  February 24, 2008

Reply 2. to

Recollections 1.

Joe Jordan


Thank you to Joe Jordan for posting a message in the EdinPhoto guestbook.

Joe wrote:

Barron's Rag Merchants

Dumbiedykes Depot

"Whilst doing some research of the Old Southside in the RCAHMS in Bernard Terrace, I came across the old 'Post Office Edinburgh & Leith Directories'

I found Barron's Rag Store listed in the 1906, 1914 and 1927 directories at 23 and 25 Dumbiedykes Road.  I assume that's where Waughs scrap merchant was in the 1940s and 1950s.

John Barron & Sons are listed as being at Holyrood Road in the 1934,  1938 and 1944 directories, but not listed in the 1945 directory."

Joe Jordan, Edinburgh:  Message posted in EdinPhoto guestbook, August 26, 2010

Reply 3. to

Recollections 1.

Davy Turner

Thank you to Davy Turner for posting a reply to Joe Jordan's message in the EdinPhoto guestbook.

Davy wrote:

Barron's Rag Store

"I don't know if this is the same person, but when I was a boy in the mid 1960s, we used to collect old rags from neighbours and take them to sell at Barry's rag store.

If i remember right it was a shop in the Cowgate.  Just a thought."

Davy Turner:  Message posted in EdinPhoto guestbook, August 26, 2010

Reply 4. to

Recollections 1.

Joe Jordan


Joe Jordan replied:

Barron's Rag Store

"Hi Dave. My answer was in response to a Bob Sharp from Canada (Reply 1 above).  His great, great grandfather had a rag store in the lower Dumbiedykes area and I thought it may have been Strachan's, along the lane at the end of Lower Viewcraig Row.

The business was a large concern employing about eighteen people.  Bob also knew that the business disappeared some time in the 1930s or 1940s.

I can faintly remember the name Barry.  Was this old Nathan's, just past Waverly Buildings or a shop in the Cowgate opposite the Chapel?"

Joe Jordan, Edinburgh:  Message posted in EdinPhoto guestbook, August 27, 2010




Lorraine Bruce (née Dutton)

Dingwall, Ross & Cromarty, Scotland

Thank you to Lorraine Bruce who wrote:

John Dutton

"My father, William Dutton, now aged 80, thinks that his brother, John Dutton, used to work for Barron's Rag Merchants."

Lorraine Bruce (née Dutton), Dingwall, Ross & Cromarty, Scotland:  September 23, 2010


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