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Famous Scots - Robert Paterson And Family

Robert Paterson (1820-1882) and family were merchants who provided preservatives, an essential items for Victorian households.

Before the days of refrigeration the technique of pickling in vinegar was one of the few real means of preserving food for any reasonable length of time, ensuring basic foods could be made available out of season. The conscientious housewife would pickle eggs in the summer months when they were plentiful, for winter use. This process also applied to tongues, hams, fruit and vegetables. Sheets soaked in vinegar were used to ward off infections from sick-rooms and after a long, tiring day the sniffing of vinegar could also help relieve headaches. These uses were wasted if the vinegar was not pure and merchants who sold it unadulterated were hard to find. However Robert Paterson had a good reputation for selling an honest product. His name appears regularly in the Post Office Directory from 1851 onwards.


In 1868 he was joined by his son Campbell and began to diversify into sauces, ketchup and fruit wines. Eight years later, following the death of its founder the Paterson Company was catapulted to fame with the first instant coffee: Camp Coffee (an essence of coffee-beans, chicory and sugar poured from a distinctive bottle). The origin of Camp Coffee is believed to have come from a request from the Gordon Highlanders to Campbell Paterson for a coffee drink that could be used easily by the army on field campaigns in India.

The regular process of grinding and brewing coffee beans was too complicated and time consuming for a military field kitchen. The creation of a liquid Camp Coffee provided a simpler method. The label of the product is said to bear the portrait of Sir Hector MacDonald, a hero of many wars in India. The Charlotte Street factory was founded in 1891 and the product proved so successful that three large additions were made between 1893 and 1908, in Charlotte Street and Greendyke Street. The Glasgow works closed in the 1970s and Camp coffee is now produced in Paisley. 

Camp Coffee is a Scottish food product, which began production in 1876 by Paterson & Sons Ltd. in a plant on Charlotte St, Glasgow. Almost one-hundred years later in 1974 businessman Daniel Jenks merged with Paterson to form Paterson Jenks plc.[1] In 1984, Paterson Jenks plc was bought by McCormick & Company. Thereafter, McCormick UK Ltd assimilated Paterson Jenks plc into Schwartz. Interestingly, McCormick claims not to be the manufacturer on their main site, and the product can't be found on the Schwartz site either.[2]

Camp Coffee is a glutinous brown substance which consists of water, sugar, 4% coffee essence, and 26% chicory essence. This is generally used as a substitute for coffee, by mixing with warm milk in much the same way as cocoa, but it is commonly found on baking aisles in supermarkets as it is also used as an ingredient in coffee cake and other confections.

The label is rather old-fashioned in tone, consisting of a drawing of a Gordon Highlander soldier (allegedly Major General Sir Hector Macdonald) and a Sikh soldier sitting down together outside a tent, from which flies a flag carrying the drink's slogan, "Ready Aye Ready". This slogan uses the form of the Scots "aye" meaning "always" so the drink was "Ready Always Ready" to be made. Originally the picture depicted the Sikh as carrying a tray of coffee -- an intermediate version, with the Sikh standing but the tray missing was also used (see the fan site link below for this version of the label) -- it is widely believed that this was changed to avoid the imperialist connotations of the Sikh as a servant, although the company does not confirm or deny this.[3][4] The original drawing was by William Victor Wrigglesworth.

Legend has it that it was originally developed as a method of brewing coffee quickly for military purposes 

Headstone Photograph

Further Information


Cemetery: Sothern Necropolis

  Caledonia Road

Town: Glasgow

Region: Glasgow and Clyde Valley

Country: Scotland


Please Note, the marker on this map indicates the Cemetery location, not the location of a particular grave. is a privately owned website with no affiliation to any Local Councils.