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Modern Times: 1950s to The Present Day

Industry and Technology

Textiles and Leather

By John R Hume

In the late 1950s the textile and leather industries in Glasgow for many years had been, with the exception of carpet weaving and the manufacture of cotton/wool mixed cloths, in slow decline. With few exceptions, the residual companies engaged in these trades were operating with outdated capital equipment and often in shrinking markets. Most of them were in the Calton, Bridgeton, Mile End and Dalmarnock districts, located among poor housing. Glasgow Corporation's policy of creating Comprehensive Development Areas - in other words large cleared sites for redevelopment - provided many of these marginal businesses with a way out as compensation was paid to those firms whose property was acquired.

The four notable exceptions to the clear-out this implied were the two major carpet-weaving firms, Templetons and Lyles, Alfred Hollins and Co, who made cotton/wool shirtings under the trade names Viyella and Clydella, and the tanners Andrew Muirhead and Sons. Though all four survived the holocaust of the 1960s, none of them now survives. The two carpet-making firms succumbed to the vogue for cheap tufted carpets and to the desire of householders to change their carpeting frequently, which made more expensive, high quality carpets seem unattractive. The advent of central heating in homes and offices similarly affected demand for the warmth of cotton/wool shirtings.

Clothing manufacture has survived, but there are no large employers, except in brassiere making in Yoker. Muirhead's tannery has survived in Bridgeton as part of Scottish Tanning Industries, the last remaining leather manufacturer, producing upholstery leathers for the airline industry.


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