We recently welcomed, to the searchroom, Dr Aashish Velkar who has been researching our records of Glaswegian textile firms such as J&P Coats and United Turkey Red.
Aashish is a lecturer in Economic History at the University of Manchester and teaches on subjects relating to the British Industrial Revolution. His book on ‘Markets and Measurements in Nineteenth Century Britian’ is being published by Cambridge University Press next month. He is currently involved in a research project that explores the problems in the quality of textile products exported to India and the Far East from Britain in the late nineteenth century. Aashish is collaborating with Professor David Higgins of The York Business School, and they are examining how British firms sought to control the numerous instances of fraud and misrepresentation involving product quality in foreign markets.
As British textile firms increased the range of products they manufactured, producing of some of the finest quality of yarn, thread and cloth, detecting the substitution of inferior quality products became the bane of English and Scottish firms alike.
This is a problem that the firms such as J&P Coats, the Paisley based thread manufacturers that began in 1802, faced. The high quality of their products made them extremely popular, to the extent that several companies produced inferior imitations, resulting in a number of legal cases.
This project explores how firms sought institutional and technological solutions to this issue. Pressure from British firms resulted in changes to commercial legislation in India (e.g. the Merchandise Marks Act) and advances in our understanding of textile fibres (e.g. establishment of the ‘Testing House’ in Manchester, which was the precursor of the British Cotton Research Association).
As well as the extremely popular records of J&P Coats, Aashish also examined the collections of United Turkey Red and John Lean & Sons.
United Turkey Red Co Ltd, formed in the 1890s, was by far the largest firm in the bleaching, finishing, dyeing and printing industry in Scotland and John Lean & Sons were a Glasgow based muslin manufacturer that was first established in 1840. You can find out more about these companies by searching their records on the on-line catalogue.
Aashish has found the letter books and minute books of the firms J&P Coats, United Turkey Red and John Lean & Sons particularly useful to add the body of evidence he and his colleague have gathered from other archives such as the Greater Manchester Records Office and the Glasgow City Archives. There is so much relevant material here at the University archives that Aashish is making another visit soon to view more of the letter books.
Aashish’s archival visits are generously funded by The Pasold Research Fund . He finds the staff at the archives to be:”the friendliest and most helpful” he has met and considers the archives to be a “treasure chest of material for the dedicated historian.”
Best of luck with your research Aashish and see you again soon!
Categories: Archive Services (GUAS)