Sir William Bilsland, 1st Bt

0317 NPG 142 William Bilsland

Sir William Bilsland (17 March 1847 – 27 August 1921) was a bread and biscuit manufacturer. After serving a grocer’s apprenticeship in Glasgow, in 1872 he set up bakeries in Glasgow, and from 1877 traded as Bilsland Brothers. The company grew steadily, with the brothers paying themselves a modest wage, so that by 1900 they were producing 23,000 loaves a week and were employing 200 people, using motorised and horse-drawn vans to deliver bread to 1,600 retailers in the Glasgow area and beyond. In 1890 they diversified into biscuits, acquiring Gray, Dunn & Co, biscuit makers to the queen, transforming it to one of the leading biscuit firms in Scotland. His staff were well-treated; they earned high wages, cash bonuses and free bread.


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