History all sewn up

Last week we celebrated the Sewing Machine Collection & Singer Archive cared for by West Dunbartonshire Council becoming Scotland’s 39th Recognised Collection of National Significance. MGS had been preparing for the event for quite a few weeks and I was very much looking forward to seeing the collection of sewing machines ‘in the flesh’.

Like many people, I had grown up with an old Singer sewing machine in our house. My mum inherited it from her Granny. I remember admiring the beautiful craftsmanship of the machine; and even the wooden box it came in had a feeling of quality about it.  What I didn’t know growing up, was it’s more than likely the machine was manufactured at the Clydebank Factory, which was a key player in the sewing machine industry on a global scale.  At its production peak in 1913 the factory had grown to occupy a site of over 100 acres, manufactured over 80% of the company’s product and, in 1913, shipped 1,301,851 sewing machines from its factory doors around the world with help from its 14,000 employees.

The Singer factory gave Clydebank its most famous landmark; the 200ft clock tower stood over the central wing and has the reputation of being the largest four faced clock in the world. Each face weighed five tons and it took four men fifteen minutes twice a week to keep it wound.
The Singer factory gave Clydebank its most famous landmark; the 200ft clock tower stood over the central wing and has the reputation of being the largest four faced clock in the world. Each face weighed five tons and it took four men fifteen minutes twice a week to keep it wound. (image courtesy of West Dunbartonshire Council)

The Clydebank Museum was founded in 1980 by a number of local people who were concerned about the loss of the area’s industrial cultural heritage. Many of them had worked in Singer’s and approached the company to ask for their collection of sewing machines and archive material, which formed the foundation of the Museum’s collection. Today, it is the largest publicly accessible collection of its kind in Europe and also provides a unique picture of the social history of the people who worked at Singer’s.

I would like to wish the whole team at the Museum a big congratulations on receiving National Recognition for a wonderful collection, which so many people can relate to. The new displays at Clydebank Town Hall are a must-see for any crafter, particularly those who like anything with a vintage flair!

Singer sewing machines
Singer sewing machines
Singer sewing machine, Model 48K, dated 1910. This model was only manufactured at Singer's Clydebank factory and was in production from 1899 to 1914 (Courtesy of West Dunbartonshire Council)
Singer sewing machine, Model 48K, dated 1910. This model was only manufactured at Singer’s Clydebank factory and was in production from 1899 to 1914

2 Comments

  1. Thats fantastic amy, back home in Rwanda, we’ve been seeing the singer sawing machines, not knowing how significant they would be in relation to scotish museums. I wish to visit it one time if possible! Bless.

    • It really is amazing how many people around the world recognise Singer machines. Glad to hear you have them in Rwanda!

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