Reid & Leys was a well-known agricultural implement and machine maker in Aberdeen that was already in business in 1885. By 1889 it described itself as a seedsman and implement agent. A decade later it was a seedsman and implement manufacturer with implement works at Wellington Road; it became renowned for these well into the twentieth century.
For much of the period when it traded, its sphere of influence was largely Aberdeenshire and the north of Scotland. It largely exhibited at the Highland Show when it was being held in the Aberdeen, and Inverness show districts. By the 1950s it started to attend the shows in the south of Scotland: Paisley, Kelso, Dundee, Dumfries and Edinburgh.
The company’s manufactures included its ploughs. It also entered its “Don” tractor manure distributor” for the new implement award at the Highland Show in 1948.
The Aberdeen evening express of 19 January 1999, published an article written by Gavin Cameron, on the imminent closure of the business. We quote it at length for the insights that it provides on changes to the business in the twentieth century:
“Brothers call it a day at garden firm
By Gavin Cameron
Slice of history is to close its doors
A unique slice of Aberdeen history is to disappear off the map after more than 100 years of growth.
Brothers Albert and Alister Corbett are calling it a day at seed and tool form Reid and Leys,
The two partners are to pull up their Summer Street roots at the end of next month.
“We’ll be sorry to miss all the customers that we consider our friends,” said Alister.
“Some of them have followed us from our former premises in Correction Wynd and Hadden Street before that, so we’ve built up a real relationship with them.
“But my brother’s past retiring age now and I’ve been here since 1950 so it’s just about time to move on.”
Alister also said that increased competition from large supermarkets was making life increasingly tough for independent retailers like Reid and Leys.
“A lot of people who come in have said that we can’t shut down as we’re an institution”, continued Alister.
“Folk have always been able to come in and have a chat with us, which is something they’re nor able to do in some of the bigger places.
“But it just seems to be the way of things these days that the bigger out-of-town places are taking over”.
Reid and Leys first opened its implement works in 1897 at Back Hilton Road and opened outlets in Rose Street and Hadden Street before moving to Correction Wynd in 1870.
The firm moved to its current Summer Street base in 1897.”