About The Darning Scotland's Textile Collections Project

Our Darning Scotland’s Textile Collections is a national lottery heritage fund project that focuses on the archival and material heritage of Scotland’s textile industry.‌

The National Lottery Heritage Fund awarded £91,800 from its Collecting Cultures initiative to enable Archive Services to further develop its textiles collections. The money will be used as part of the Darning Scotland's Textile Collections project to add items such as fabric sample books catalogues, industry tools, and clothes made from 19th and 20th century textiles and theatre costumes.

Collecting Cultures is unique in providing curators with a sum of money to develop their collections proactively rather than having to wait for a painting or object to become available on the market. It was developed as a one-off programme in 2008 but has proved so popular that it was brought back in 2014 for a second time.

The textile collections held by the University of Glasgow provide evidence of Scotland’s rich and diverse textile heritage, from weaving and sewing in the home, to full scale mechanized factory textile production. 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 use in fashion, furnishings, theatre costume (Scottish Theatre Archive) and as industrial textiles.

Aims of the project

The Darning Scotland’s Textile Collections project will identify strategic gaps and opportunities for extending these collections through acquisition. Delivering a programme of activities including exhibitions, seminars and interpretative resources to promote engagement with collections, record and share knowledge of the collections and industry, and learn about the Scottish textile industry. Darning Scotland’s Textile Collections will celebrate the domestic innovation and global connections of Scotland’s textile industry.

We currently hold key textile collections including those from New Lanark Mills, United Turkey Red, the Stoddard-Templeton collection (two of Scotland's most significant and influential carpet designers and manufacturers) and The House of Fraser Archive. The collections help inform the research and teaching in the College of Arts and the activities of the Centre for Textile Conservation and Technical Art History. As part of the project a broad-reaching plan will enable many more people to learn about and research the Scottish textile industry through training, exhibitions and digital resources.

Darning Scotland’s Textile Collections will:

  • Map the University Library’s heritage collections relating to the Scottish textile industry, identifying strategic gaps and opportunities for extending these collections (with reference to other textile heritage collections across Scotland and the UK).
  • Purchase items / collections to fill identified strategic gaps and develop further the collections.
  • Deliver a programme of activities to allow University Library staff, University academics and students, local communities, particularly former textile communities, creative communities and the general public (particularly those with a research interest in or personal involvement with the textile industry) to engage with the textile collections, share knowledge of the collections and industry, and learn about the Scottish textile industry.
  • Develop University Library’s staff knowledge of the textile related collections and their value for research and teaching within the University, and for engagement with the wider public.
  • Extend the University Library’s involvement in public engagement activities

Our plan for acquisitions involves focusing on filling strategic gaps and extending our current textile industry related holdings. These holdings include the records of textile manufacturers, retailers and costume design in the Scottish Theatre Archive. The project will exclude areas of the textile industry which are already collected and made accessible through other heritage institutions. In particular, the project will be limited to nonwoollen textiles and focus on textile manufacturing in the West of Scotland so cotton, linen and thread manufacturing and the printing dyeing and finishing industries. It includes the following items or collections:

  • Items relating to the calico printing industry (particularly sample books and small tools used in the manufacturing process), 
  • Product catalogues (to fill gaps within the House of Fraser Archive and extend collections to cover other Scottish textile manufacturers and retailers), and
  • Samples of textiles (from manufacturer’s sample books, through to finished products such as theatre costume).

The significance of our textile heritage collections will be enhanced by the acquisition of items such as sample books and product catalogues which have strong visual and design impact for users and complement the written business records in the collections. Planned and proactive acquisition of these items and additional business collections will help to fill gaps.

A project officer was appointed in March 2018 to develop and deliver and engagement plan. Our plans for the public engagement aspects of the project includes the following types of activities:

  • Knowledge sharing / oral history seminars: hands-on sessions with items (particularly textile samples and tools) to facilitate the exchange of knowledge between Library staff, University staff and students, and members of the public with a connection to the textile industry particularly ex-employee groups for key companies.
  • Inspiration seminars: hands-on sessions with items (particularly samples, designs, catalogues) to inspire designers and artists to draw on the heritage in their current work.
  • Exhibitions to allow the general public to learn more about Scotland’s textile industry.
  • Partnership working: with designers and academics as well as museums with textile-related collections (either costume or industrial processes focused collections).