Records of the Textile Industry

Records of the Textile Industry

‌The textile collections held at archive services provide evidence of Scotland’s rich and diverse textile heritage, from weaving and sewing in the home, to full scale mechanized factory textile production and include records of needlework associations and the sale of clothes and furnishings by retailers.

The records of this industry are an excellent source of information about the domestic impact and global connections of Scottish business and the collections document various aspects of the Scottish textile industry. The resources held shed light on the entire lifecycle of textiles; from their design, production and manufacture, through their sale as a raw material, to their final use in fashion, furnishings, theatre costume(within Special Collection's Scottish Theatre Archive) and as industrial textiles. Our textile industry collections have the potential to make connections in local, regional, national and international spheres.

The Scottish Business Archive contains over 130 textile collections, a source list is available here and key highlights include:

The New Lanark Mills collection held by Archive Services contains a mixture of records relating to the individual businesses of New Lanark Mills to the village of New Lanark and its relationship with the Gourock Ropeworks. New Lanark Mills itself is one of five UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Scotland and the collection includes key records such as the visitor books for 1795-1962 and register of births, deaths and marriages 1818-1853.

United Turkey Red Co. Ltd. was by far the largest firm in the bleaching, finishing, dyeing and printing industry in Scotland. It was formed during the 1890s, growing naturally out of a number of occasional associations between dyeing firms in the West of Scotland. The collection held by Archive Services includes: administrative records 1826-1934; staff records 1845-1916; financial records 1845-1939 and production records 1873-1934.

The Stoddard-Templeton Collection encompasses the design library, design and corporate archive and heritage carpet collection of James Templeton & Co. Ltd. and Stoddard International plc, two of Scotland’s most significant and influential carpet designers and manufacturers. During the second half of the nineteenth century and throughout the twentieth, Stoddard's and Templeton's were a major force at the centre of Scottish art and design, making an important contribution to Scottish design and industrial success. The collection is managed jointly by the University of Glasgow, the Glasgow School of Art and Glasgow Life. Archive Services hold the design and corporate archives.

Established in 1840 John Lean & Sons manufactured cotton textiles until the 1960s mainly for the Indian and Middle Eastern markets. The collection includes: letterbooks 1852-1951; shipping ledgers 1854-1924; private ledgers 1854-1932; wage book 1919-1941 and other financial ledgers. The John Lean & Sons Ltd Archive contains a considerable amount of information regarding the company’s foreign trade, particularly with Calcutta, Bombay and Rangoon and the collection is notable for its almost continuous series of letterbooks which document this export trade over a hundred year period. 

Founded by James Coats in Ferguslie, Paisley in the late 1820s, J. & P. Coats became one of the world’s leading thread manufacturers. By the twentieth century the company had expanded by establishing mills in North America and across Europe with over 21,000 employees in 17 production centres, 60 branch houses and 150 selling depots throughout the world. The records of Coats Viyella Plc is a large collection and includes: minute books 1880-1985; letterbooks and correspondence 1868-1984; registers 1890-1972; general and department ledgers 1890-1933; cash books 1857-1932 and salary books 1901-1940.

The firm David Ligat & Sons Ltd operated in Newmilns as muslin manufacturers between 1908 and 1931. The collection is small and comprised of pattern books and printed pattern sheets 1908-1920s. 

Within the records of the Napier family (shipbuilders and marine engineers, Glasgow) there are papers related to the firm of Mitchell & Muter as the families of Napier and Muter were related. These business records include: letterbooks 1845-1917; financial records 1804-1882 and production records 1780s-1863 

In 1750 the firm of James Finlay & Co was established in Glasgow as traders and manufacturers of cotton. It operated in a number of overseas and UK markets and by 1798 had become major textile manufacturers with mills at Ballindalloch, Catrine and Deanston. Gradually during the nineteenth century the company's trading activities outstripped their textile manufacturing business and they moved to focus on tea estate management. Within this extensive collection material related to the production of textiles at the mills includes: ledgers 1895-1957; order books; staff records 1825-1960; stock records 1915-1930 and property records 1826-1966.

This extensive collection of over 10,000 items includes product catalogues documenting the use of textiles for clothing and home furnishings from department stores across the UK such as Wylie & Lochead, Dickens & Jones, House of Fraser and Army & Navy. 

Many of these individual collections are currently significant in their own right and some such as the House of Fraser and Stoddard-Templeton collections have previously been the focus of separate projects to catalogue or improve access and engagement with the collections. When examined as a whole collection which represents the textile industry and in particular West of Scotland industries like cotton and thread manufacturing the potential heritage significance of the collections is considerable.