Old Glasgow Club

Minutes of an Ordinary meeting of the Old Glasgow Club held at Adelaide’s, 209 Bath Street on Thursday 8th March 2012 at 7.30pm





Ms Sannachan (President)


Ms Sannachan welcomed everyone to the meeting, including our 5 new members.


There were apologies from Isabel Haddow, Hugh Wilson, Marilyn Paterson and Robert Pool.


The minutes of the last ordinary meeting held on Thursday 9th February were approved, proposed by Margaret Thom and seconded by Joyce McNae. There were no amendments or matters arising.

President’s report

Ms Sannachan encouraged everyone to look at the noticeboard/merchandise table and to participate in the “Mind the Time” project which is still ongoing.

There are still free guided tours around Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery until March 31st. There is also a special afternoon tea offer on in the café.

Mrs Sannachan spoke for the club when she welcomed Mr McNae back after is recent illness.

The “Aye Write” festival will be held in the Mitchell Library from 9th-17th March.

The Riverside museum has been nominated for “Museum of the Year” which comes with a £100,000 prize.

The Govan-Riverside ferry will start its summer schedule from 2nd April. The Glasgow-Braehead ferry starts on 14th April. Both leave from the new pontoon built on the Broomielaw.

The Tappit Hen on the 17th May will take place at Queens Park Bowling Greens and there will be a buffet available afterwards in the Bowling Clubhouse. Please see Mrs Thom for details.

This years summer outing is to Burns Country on Saturday 9th June, priced at £16 per ticket. The bus leaves at 09.30am from Mount Florida Bowling Club and 10.00am from City Chambers.

The Glasgow Humane Society has launched the “Riverman Appeal” which aims to raise £100,000 for a new patrol boat and life-saving equipment. There will be a concert in aid of the appeal on 10th March at West Brewery featuring Tom Urie, Michael Cassidy and Horse and a second on the 20th April which will have a 70’s theme.

Secretary’s Report

No report.


Ms Sannachan was pleased to introduce Ms Clare Paterson, a senior archivist for the Business Collections of the Glasgow University Archive Services who would talk on “James Templeton – Carpeting the World”. Templeton’s carpets were a familiar industry not just in Glasgow but all over the world. At its heyday the company was hugely significant to the Glasgow economy, employing over 3,000 people.

James Templeton was born in 1802 in Campbeltown where he started his career in a drapers shop. He moved to a merchant’s house in Liverpool and then spent 3 years in Mexico in the 1820’s at the height of its struggle for independence. He returned to Scotland to work in Glasgow then Paisley, working on shawl manufacturing. In 1839 he obtained a patent for improving the production of shawls which he later adapted into a process for manufacturing chenille carpets (a fragment of one of his original carpets is in the archive). He worked on this process for a few years, perfecting the process before opening J. Templeton & Co on King St in Glasgow. Within 10 years his company employed around 400 people. He also produced “Brussels” carpets which were more affordable than the luxury chenille type.

Some of his carpets are works of art rather than utility items, a reflection of the skills of his workforce. For example for the Exposition Universelle in Paris 1867, the 12 Apostles carpet was produced. This measured 5 X 12m (18 X 40 feet) and was based on the statue Jesus and the 12 Apostles by the sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen in Copenhagen Cathedral. This carpet is in the Stoddart-Templeton Heritage Collection but is so large it is rarely displayed.

In the 1870’s James Templeton passed the business onto his sons, John who went into sales and James who concentrated on the financial side. Luxury Axminster carpets were produced and to cope with demand a larger factory was required. The first factory was designed by William Leiper, inspired by the Doge’s Palace, Venice. On 1st November 1889 the façade blew down killing 29 women working in sheds nearby. The second factory was completed in 1891.

Ms Paterson then showed a short film produced in 1961 “From Glasgow Green to Bendigo” to highlight just how well the company fared in the 60’s.

Design of the carpets came from patterns inspired from various sources e.g. Persia, the French Court, English country houses, 16th century tapestries. In the 20th Century the carpets were designed by an in-house team of designers but also produced special editions by Charles Rennie MacIntosh, Arthur Silver (of the Silver Studio) and Mary Quant.

The production of the carpets incorporated wool from Pakistan, jute from India for backing, cotton from the USA or Egypt, Irish linen and Scottish looms. For an average sized chenille rug a Jaquard loom was used and would take 5 girls 7 weeks to weave.

Templeton’s carpets were known worldwide and were seen as high-end luxury items. Templeton’s carpeted Westminster Abbey, Windsor Castle, the Whitehouse, the Titanic and the Government buildings of London, Canberra, Wellington and Cape Town.

The last quarter of the 20th century saw a decline in the carpet industry and despite a merger with Stoddart International plc in the 1980’s, the company went into liquidation in 2009. Glasgow archives collaborated with Glasgow School of Art and Glasgow Life to buy the collection, with the aid of a grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund. There are now 3,800 design drawings and patterns, 2,000 design sketches, 226 carpet pieces and numerous photographs which are being catalogued, conserved and digitised. Ms Paterson showed some slides from the collection. Carpet pieces are in the process of being cleaned and will be displayed in the Burrell.

The corporate archive contains all minute books, business records, contracts, accounts and patent records. The archive also includes copies of the Templetonian, an in-house magazine which provides a fascinating insight into names of personnel, company news and social events. All entries will eventually be digitised (with the help of Friends of Glasgow University Library).

Glasgow University Archive Services would like the collection to be accessible to everyone and aim to eventually hold an exhibition; however this will take time and money. Digitisation of the archive is almost complete and will hopefully be launched next month (April). For more details see http://www.gla.ac.uk/services/archives/collect/business/features/stoddard/. There is also a collection on Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/uofglibrary/sets/72157625472336767/.

The effort going into this project reflects the importance of the Templeton archive.

Q. Were people reluctant to walk on the “fancier” carpets e.g. the 12 Apostles?

A. Possibly, some were meant as showpieces. There is definitely no walking on them now.

Q. From the Templetonian records what was the company like to work for?

A. By all accounts it was very focussed on its workforce. A friendly society and banking assistance were on hand.

Q. What happened to the building?

A. It is now a business centre and microbrewery/restaurant (West Brewery). It would be great to have a display of Templeton wares somewhere in the building.

Q. How will we find out about the launch?

A. Keep checking the website for details.

Q. Did Templeton manufacture overseas?

A. There were certainly warehouses overseas but not sure if any manufacturing was carried out there. Perhaps manufacturing was restricted to Empire countries.

Q. Who was the main competitor?

A. Several competitors include Stoddarts, Kidderminster and Brintons.

Q. Where can you find out if your relative worked in Templetons?

A. Templetonian archives go back to 1905, so no 100% coverage but is the best option.

Vote of Thanks

Mr Graeme Smith thanked Ms Paterson for her enthusiastic talk and commented on how pleased he is that the archive has been saved and will be available to see once fully digitised.


The picture quiz was won by Joan Wylie who identified the statue of St Kentigern/Mungo on the Tron Steeple, Trongate.


Next Directors Meeting-        Wednesday 4th April 2012

Next Ordinary Meeting-        Thursday 12th April 2012

Ms Sannachan wished all a safe journey home.


P Cairns, Recording Secretary.