Robert Cresser



THE Firm of CUNNINGHAM & CRESS ER, Brushmakers,

345 High Street, Edinburgh, of which the

Subacribers were the sole Partners, was DISSOLVED of

this date, by mutual consent.

Edinburgh, 20th April 1874.


20 Rosemount Buildings, Edinburgh.


14 Raehurn Place, Edinburgh.

JNO. IRELAND, Jr., Law-Clerk, 19 York

Place, Edinburgh, Witness.

GEO. P. GALLOWAY, Law-Apprentice,

19 York Place, Edinburgh, Witness.


Extract from The Edinburgh Gazette, 24th April 1874, Page 6

Copyright H.M.S.O.




Robert Cresser started business on his own account in 1881 at 345/357 High Street, he moved shortly after to 27 South Bridge and finally moved to 40 Victoria Street in 1886. Although brushes were made above the shop his main manufacturing base was in Candlemaker Row and he was described in 1886 as a Brushmaker and Cooper.


He died on the 14th March 1930 aged 87, his estate was valued at £2105.10.8d and was bequeathed to his sons and daughters in varying proportions.  His daughter Susan bought out her siblings share of the business.


The shop was sold in 1951 to George Aithie and there must have been a stipulation that the name Robert Cresser be maintained.  Mr Aithie died in 1973.  Mrs Aithie carried on the business until she died in 1982.  Her daughter Grace kept the business going by making the manager Stephen Gilhooly a partner.  He had worked there as a brushmaker since 1966, he eventually bought out Grace Aithie in 1984.


Number 40 received much publicity over the years and has featured on postcards and calendars.  Sadly the shop is now closed and it’s future uncertain.  The Edinburgh Victorian Society have taken an interest and perhaps the façade will be kept intact as part of Edinburgh’s Victorian retail history.





Robert Cresser's Brush Shop, Edinburgh
© Dave Henniker

Some notes from Robert Cresser Macpherson


“My memories of the shop and all those who worked there are all pleasant. I suppose it was in 1919/1920 that I went in to 40 Victoria Street on Saturdays during school term and other days when the school was on summer holiday".


“I went to all sorts of customers delivering brushes and picking up other items which were not made in the shop.  The most interesting one was to pick up coir door mats, which were made to measure, from the prison on Calton Hill  where the Scottish Office now stands.  I was taken by warders on a number of occasions to the big room where the prisoners lined the four walls sitting crossed legged on the floor, making the mats and other items".


“When Grandad Cresser came to live with us at 55 Briarbank Terrace he brought home parcels of hair neatly tied up and put them in the fireside oven overnight.  He told me the reason but I can’t remember now though I do remember that they mostly came from China and he collected them off the ships at Leith Docks".







"Robert Cresser married again in 1914 to Isabelle Watt and they settled down in her house at Lochrin Place, Tollcross, Edinburgh.  She and her late husband were friends of the Cressers and as he was in charge of the Edinburgh swimming pools there was no lack of tickets to sample the delights of swimming.  When Isabella died in 1922 he went back to live above the shop at 40 Victoria Street and it is remembered that his daughter Susan from time to time lived there too".

R. Cresser - Via Michelin 2006

© A. Poirier
Le magasin de brosses en tout genre de Mister Cresser, une curiosité à ne pas manquer !

Là, le célèbre magasin de brosses en tout genre de Mister Robert Cresser, l'oeil vif sous ses lunettes cerclées de fer, étale ses ustensiles à poils sur le trottoir. Une curiosité à ne pas manquer, au numéro 40. Si la faim vous travaille, continuez votre chemin (première à gauche dans George IV Bridge, puis première à droite dans Royal Mile et enfin première à gauche, St Giles Street) jusqu'à la pâtisserie Florentin. Pas une pâtisserie mais plutôt un café qui décline joyeusement jaune soleil et bois verni sur ses 2 petits étages. On y entend aussi bien du Piaf que de la cornemuse. Leur soupe tomate et basilic est fraîche du jour et leurs sandwiches au pastrami et moutarde fondent dans la bouche. Le tout à des prix très abordables.
Et après ça, quartier libre !
Source: Via Michelin Aout 2001

West Bow and Lower Victoria Street, Edinburgh
Copyright The D and A Collection

40 Victoria Street
Copyright The D and A Collection

City of Edinburgh the West Bow and Lower Victoria Street

The West Bow was Edinburgh’s Ancient entrance from the West which originally extended from the Lawnmarket near the Castle down to the Grassmarket where the town gallows stood.

This steep section survived the road improvements of 1827, resulting in its present day alignment with Victoria Street.

It housed the Nobles and Aristocrats of the City gradually changing to a noisy bustling area of coppersmiths, tinsmiths and metal beaters.

Fortunately the present five storey buildings have retained their original features.

At number 91-3 Crocketland built in 1705, with its unaltered red ochre harl, straight stone panels and curved gable is a particularily fine example.

Victoria Street is possibly one of the most charming and colourful streets of Edinburgh, with its unique terrace situated above.

It is a comparatively new street built in the late 1820’s to link the Grassmarket at the lower end with George 1V Bridge at the top.

The shops in this area were once described by James Ballantine as dealing in the necessaries of life, homely merchandise, curios and knicknacks with which they were generally crammed to the door.

No better example of Ballantine’s description is to be found at Robert Cresser’s brush shop at number 40, established in 1873.




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