Textile collections and the ‘Dyes in History and Archaeology 33’ conference

Yesterday was the first day of the 33rd Meeting of Dyes in History and Archaeology (30th October – 1st November). The meeting is a conference organised by the Centre for Textile Conservation and Technical Art History and includes the exchange of research in the field and also an array of social events.

We have joined in too with a pop-up-heritage display show-casing some of our fabulous textile industry records, from the Scottish Business Archive, and specifically those that document dyeing processes. We held our stall yesterday at morning tea and over lunch and will be back today at lunch time so come along DHA33 folks and have a look at our records!


We have with us a leather dyeing lab book from 1922-26 (UGD167/9/2/3) from the company W & J Martin Ltd., leather merchants, tanners, and footwear manufacturers. In the 1830s, James Martin set up in business as a leather merchant in Gallowgate, Glasgow. He expanded his activities into tanning and they eventually became W & J Martin. In around 1900 the firm started to pioneer a new chrome leather tanning process. Their business records in our collections include: production and research records, 1897-1978; ledgers, 1931-1979; and leather producers association material, 1946-1979.

We also have a dye recipe book from 1822-28 (DC90/7/3/1) from the company Mitchell & Muter, calico printers based in Dumbarton. Their records are within our Napier family collection (shipbuilders and marine engineers, Glasgow) as the families of Napier and Muter were related. Our Mitchell & Muter papers include: letterbooks 1845-1917; financial records 1804-1882 and production records 1780s-1863.

We have brought along a photograph from the James Templeton & Co Ltd, carpet manufacturers, collection that shows a mechanical dyeing process, for colouring yarns for use in multi-coloured carpets, c1950s (STOD201/2/16/2/4/7). James Templeton & Co. Ltd. was one of Scotland’s most significant and influential carpet designers and manufacturers who were also a major force at the centre of Scottish art and design, making an important contribution to Scottish design and industrial success.

Mitchell & Muter dye recipe book (DC90/7/3/1)

Mitchell & Muter dye recipe book (DC90/7/3/1)

Another record we have on show is a sample book from 1899-1901, from the United Turkey Red collection (UGD13/8/9) in which are enclosed little samples of dyed fabrics in different colours and patterns, with annotations on how to achieve the effect. 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.
You can see some of the fabulous Turkey Red fabric samples in our flickr set.

United Turkey Red samplebook (UGD13/8/9)

United Turkey Red samplebook (UGD13/8/9)

And finally, we have brought a notebook of dyeing processes and chemicals from 1913 from our New Lanark Mills collection (UGD42/11/3). The New Lanark Mills collection  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. We also have a flickr set for our New Lanark collection!

You can find out more about our textile collections on our website and from our textile source guide.

We will be doing a lot of work developing our textile collections in the near future with the help of a Heritage Lottery Fund Collecting Cultures grant. The money will be used as part of the Darning Scotland’s Textile Heritage project to add items such as fabric sample books catalogues, industry tools, and clothes made from 19th and 20th century textiles and theatre costumes.

If you would like to come and research our textile collections, please make an appointment by e-mailing Duty Archivist on enquiries@archives.gla.ac.uk .

Categories: Archive Services

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