During the late 19th/early 20th century, one of the best known pork butchers in the city was Robert Davidson Waddell (1855-1929). On leaving school he had served his apprenticeship as a sausage maker with Annakers Ltd, a major meat processing factory. Glaswegians of a certain generation will remember the phrase “Annaker’s Midden”. This is said to originate from the midden out of the back of the east end factory in the early days, and was used to describe any place that was dirty or messy.
By 1878 Waddell had begun trading on his own account in the Gallowgate. The business quickly expanded and he opened other branches, and built a large factory. Waddell became a household name both north and south of the border famous for his sausages, pies, haggis and potted heid. He had a chain of shops across the UK, and produce was transported by rail to their outlets in Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Belfast and London.
In the late 1890’s the factory was totally rebuilt on the Napiershall St site and was the largest sausage factory in Scotland. It was a 6 storey block with attics, built in the Renaissance style at a cost of £47,000 – a substantial sum. (for comparison, the rival firm Annakers also built a Renaissance style factory at around the same time at a cost of £8,000). Care was taken with the building’s appearance as it was in a residential area.
During the late Victorian period there was an increased public awareness of hygiene issues and increased factory visits by sanitary inspectors. Always quick to spot an opportunity for promoting his business. Waddell used the hygienic conditions of the factory in his advertising material. Customers were invited to inspect the factory and see for themselves the hygienic conditions in which the food was produced.
Once viewed as a meat product only for the poor, sausages were becoming popular with the middle classes. By 1910 he was advertising his wares as being made from the “best Sandringham reared young pigs”. Bright, colourful stands with clever advertising were situated at the Glasgow and Edinburgh International Exhibitions and also at London .
Waddell was also a pioneer of glass containers for meat products and sold them to many high class grocery chains including Cooper Stores.
The company’s advertising jingle was “Waddell’s Sausages are the Best” and there were a number of variations of children’s rhymes e.g
Waddell’s sausages are the best, in your belly they will rest
Annaker’s sausages are the worst, in your belly they will burst
During celebrations at the end of the First World War, in 1918, flags were handed out to local children, with the Union Jack on one side and “Waddell’s Sausages are the Best” on the other!
Apart from being a successful businessman, R.D. appears to have had other interests of a cultured variety e.g. he was said to be a “passable violin player” and had a collection of violins including a Stradivarius.
The year prior to his death he also acquired Annakers Ltd, the business in which he had served his apprenticeship as a young lad. The business passed to his only son Robert Bulloch Waddell and was wound up in the 1950’s.
By 1967 only the ground floor of the buildings was in use, as a car showroom. Demolished in the 1980’s the ground was landscaped to provide a green space for local residents.