- c1840s-1960s (Creation)
Level of description
Content and Structure
Scope and content
A collection of carpets and textiles manufactured by James Templeton & Co Ltd, A F Stoddard & Co Ltd or subsidiary companies (which in 1998 together became known as Stoddard International plc), dating from c1840s-1960s. Designs include pictorial scenes, art deco designs, and floral, chintz or medallion-centred designs. The collection also includes a mid-19th century Paisley shawl.
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
This material has been appraised in line with Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections standard procedures.
System of arrangement
Name of creator
James Templeton and Co. was established in 1843, making Chenille, Axminster, Wilton and Brussels carpets. Technological innovation and design skill brought the company considerable worldwide success throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, with its products in high demand in the domestic and commercial markets. It employed artists of international calibre such as Charles Voysey, Walter Crane and Frank Brangwyn, with their carpets used in Coronations and in liners such as the Titanic.
In their 1950s heyday they were Glasgow's biggest single employers, with 7,000 employees. Glasgow carpets were exported to all four corners of the globe, with major commissions for parliaments, concert halls and cultural institutions, along with domestic interiors. Famous Templeton carpets include the Regatta Restaurant carpets for the 1951 Festival of Britain, and the Twelve Apostles carpet made for the Paris Exhibition of 1867.
In 1983 Templeton's merged with another local carpet manufacturer, A. F. Stoddard of Elderslie, to form Stoddard International. A. F. Stoddard had been founded in 1862 by Arthur Francis Stoddard, an American who refused to live in the United States because of the continued slave trade. He regularly addressed abolition meetings in Glasgow, which had tended to side with the South during the American Civil War because of its strong cotton and tobacco routes. Stoddard's went on to produce carpets for the wedding of Queen Elizabeth II, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Dickens and Jones, Epsom race-course, and Liberty's.
In 1980, the Guthrie Corporation Ltd of London and parent company of British Carpets Ltd (previously James Templeton & Co Ltd, carpet manufactures, Glasgow) acquired a £1.5m stake in Stoddard Holdings Ltd. In return, Guthrie Corporation Ltd transferred British Carpets Ltd's subsidiary companies, including Templetons Carpets Ltd, S J Stockwell & Co (Carpets) Ltd of Glasgow and Kingsmead Carpets Ltd of London to Stoddard Holdings Ltd. The Templeton factories in Bridgeton, Glasgow, were closed down in that year and production transferred to Stoddard's Elderslie site. In 1984, Stoddard Holdings Ltd became a public limited company as Stoddard Holdings plc. In 1988, following the acquisition of the textile manufacturers, Sekers, the company changed its name to Stoddard Sekers International plc . The 1990s and 2000s saw significant financial pressures for the company as consumer fashions moved away from carpeting in favour of wooden flooring. Stoddard's responded to these pressures by focusing on its core carpet market. In 1998, the Sekers business was sold and the company renamed as Stoddard International plc. In 2002, the company closed two production sites, including its headquarters in Elderlie; consolidating production in Kilmarnock, Scotland. However, the financial pressures on the company continued to grow and it went into receivership in February 2005. With no buyer to take the company on as a going concern, its assets were sold, and the liquidation of Stoddard International plc was finalised in 2009.
For more information, see also: [https://lib.gsa.ac.uk/special-collections/special-collections-stoddard-templeton/.
Please note, GSA Library has digitised volumes from its collections related to Stoddard International plc. These are available to view at this same address.
Name of creator
Richard Barnett Whytock was born in Dalkeith, Midlothian and was the son of a minister. In 1806 Whytock opened his first business, a haberdashery in Edinburgh, with his brother William. By 1810 Whytock had changed business partners and was now in a furnishings and upholstery business with Robert Grieve. Initially this business was more concerned with sales rather than the manufacture of these goods. However, by 1818 Whytock and Grieve began to make decorative fringes for furniture and employed skilled workmen from London which showed their transformation from sales to upholstery manufacture.
It was during this time that Whytock took on a new partner in Henry Henderson. It was this partnership that can be seen as the foundations for Henry Widnell & Stewart Ltd. The premises of Whytock and Henderson's new business were in Queensberry House in the Canongate which had been the previous residence of the Duke of Queensberry. In 1827 Whytock and Henderson took on another partner by the name of William McCrie. McCrie was a wallpaper stainer and from this partnership it was possible to see Whytock and Henderson's interests in different forms of decorative arts. By 1828 Whytock had become a Burgess of the Canongate.
In 1830 the Board of Trustees asked Whytock to go to Brussels to see how the Manufacturers of the Netherlands produced their carpets. Whytock returned to Edinburgh unimpressed by what he had seen. Around this period Whytock became interested in the process of carpet manufacture which led him to invent and patent the Tapestry carpet loom in 1832. This loom differed from the Brussels and Jacquard looms as its process allowed one thread to be used rather than five or six. The single thread could then be dyed a variety of colours in half inch blocks depending on the pattern. By dying the thread different colours it meant that there was no dead pile left in the carpet from any of the other coloured threads that were not used. This also meant that an unlimited number of colours could be used compared to only five or six that were available in other loom processes. Whytock's loom was also one third the size of the Brussels loom. Contemporaries believed that Whytock's invention would supersede all other looms including that of the Jacquard loom.
By 1833 Whytock had patented his new invention and the company had grown. Whytock and Henderson took new premises at St Anne's brewery at Lasswade in Midlothian along the banks of the River Esk. It was here that the company produced Persian and Turkish style hand knotted carpets. During these years Whytock's carpets gained much notoriety. In 1838 Whytock became Patent Carpet Manufacturer to the Queen.
By 1846 the company entered a new era and with that came a new name and partner. During 1846 Richard Whytock left the carpet manufacturing business to concentrate on the development of fabrics and returned to the selling of carpets. Henry Henderson gained a new partner in Henry Widnell and the company became Henderson and Widnell. Henry Widnell had previously been involved in carpet manufacture in Kidderminster which had been a central town for carpet production in Great Britain. Henderson and Widnell continued to produce high quality carpets and at the Great Exhibition of 1851 the company won a medal for the quality of their carpets and their designs.
The next stage of the company came in 1856 when Widnell took complete control of the company. Henderson and Widnell became known as Henry Widnell & Company. By 1859 the company was in financial difficulty and Henry Widnell (son of the aforementioned Henry Widnell) took complete control of the company's stock which was now bankrupt. Eventually things improved for the company financially and in 1868 a new site was rented out at the Old Bleach Works at Roslin in Midlothian. The company now had two sites of manufacture including that at St Anne's in Lasswade four miles away.
By 1873 Henry Widnell (Snr) had passed away. It was around this time that George Stewart of Stewart Brothers of Eskbank became a partner in Henry Widnell & Company. However, the two manufacturers continued to trade as two separate companies in competition with each other. Harry H. Widnell, Henry Widnell's (Snr) son, became a new partner in the company between 1873 and 1878. However, his involvement in the company was short lived and Harry H. Widnell passed away in 1879 leaving the company in the hands of George Stewart. George Stewart was joined by his sons George Stewart (Jnr) and John George Stewart in 1882.
In 1895 both Stewart Brothers of Eskbank and Henry Widnell & Company were sold to Henry Widnell & Stewart Ltd for £270,000. The company continued to manufacture a variety of carpets until being disrupted by World War II. Between the years 1939-1945 the sites were put to use for the war effort. The Lasswade site was used to make cotton cloth for the army, the Roslin site was used as a food store, and the Eskbank site was used to produce Ever-Ready batteries.
The final stage of Henry Widnell & Stewart Ltd began in 1955 when the company held talks concerning A F Stoddard & Co Ltd taking over the company. However, the take over was not completed until 1959. Although A F Stoddard now owned the company it still traded under the name of Henry Widnell & Stewart Ltd until 1983 when the company finally closed its doors for business for good.
Name of creator
James Templeton (1802-1885) was born in Campbeltown, Argyll & Bute, Scotland. He began his career in a small wholesale draper in Glasgow, Scotland, before working for a merchant house in Liverpool, England. He spent 3 years in Mexico on the company's behalf, then returned to Scotland where he gained experience in the Glasgow cotton industry before moving to Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland. Here he established a shawl-making business in 1829 at the age of 27. He became interested in the weaving of chenille when it was introduced to the Paisley shawl-making industry in the 1830s and in July 1839, he and William Quiglay, a weaver in his employ, obtained a patent for an improved method of making chenille. Templeton realised the possibility of applying this to make a new type of carpet and in December of that year bought out Quiglay's share of the patent. Chenille carpets were a cheaper alternative to hand tufted Axminster. Producing Axminster was a slow process as each piece of yarn constituting the pile had to be tied to a pair of warp threads by hand. The chenille carpet was woven on a loom like cloth and subsequently cut into narrow strips that resembled striped caterpillars. The strips, each constituting a line of pile, were then woven in a setting loom to the warp threads which formed part of the base of the carpet; it was possible to weave a complete seamless carpet and to use a wide range of colours in the pattern so that it had a rich appearance closely resembling traditional Axminster. Production was therefore much quicker and more efficient although two separate weaving concerns were needed. Templeton left Paisley to concentrate on chenille carpets and began production in King Street, Glasgow, where he produced fitted carpet to specific dimensions and also strips of carpet that could then be fitted together to produce a whole carpet. His brother, Archibald, and his brother-in-law, Peter Reid, joined him in partnership as James Templeton & Co in 1843. James remained in control of the business while Peter handled the accounts and Archibald moved to London around 1850 to manage the London office and warehouse. Whilst the company made a loss for the first 3 years, it subsequently made consistent profits. By 1851 the company was employing some 400 people and the firm's capital exceeded £14,000. When the firm's patent ran out in 1853, competitors arose but the firm continued to prosper, employing a large number of designers and exhibiting at international trade fairs where they frequently won prize medals. The company's original factory was destroyed by fire in 1856 but a former cotton mill was acquired in William Street, later renamed Templeton Street, in Bridgeton in the East End of Glasgow. In 1860 the firm's capital exceeded £35,000 and over the next decade rose to £102,000 as profits were reinvested. Templeton also diversified his output, producing the cheaper and more popular Brussels carpet during the 1850s. In 1855 production for this business was transferred to another factory on Crownpoint Road, Glasgow, controlled as a separate firm, J & J S Templeton & Co in which he was partnered by his eldest son, John Stewart Templeton. This firm became one of the leading British producers of Brussels and Wilton carpets. John Stewart Templeton remained in charge of that side of the business for 30 years but also became a partner in James Templeton & Co along with his younger brother, James, in 1866. The 1870s saw the market falter. Sales declined and Templeton experimented with the mechanisation of chenille carpet production although by his retirement in 1878 mechanisation had still not fully been achieved. By this time, chenille carpets accounted for 5 per cent of the carpet industry's total production with James Templeton & Co the second largest chenille manufacturer with approximately 25 per cent of the market. On their father's retirement, John and James jnr took charge of the business with James taking control of the finances while John travelled widely in Europe and North America acting as the firm's spokesman and policy maker. John also continued the mechanisation programme for chenille begun by his father with new machinery being installed at the Templeton Street factory. A major breakthrough came in 1882 when William Adam, a former employee and partner in Tomkinson & Adam of Kidderminster, patented an improved setting loom which initially wove carpet up to one yard wide. Templeton applied for a licence, and was successful alongside two other firms. Together, the four firms met as the Association of Axminster Manufacturers, fixing prices to maintain profits. By 1882, Templeton had installed 120 of the new looms and, along with Tomkinson & Adam, was far outstripping the production of the other two firms. In 1878 Tomkinson & Adam had obtained the rights to a 'Royal Axminster' loom but Templeton's commitment to mechanised chenille weaving had prevented him from taking a licence. However, in November 1887 John Templeton obtained the rights to a new spool Axminster power loom from the American company, E B Biglow. Thirty looms were to be installed and a new factory built. However, the partly completed factory, with its exterior modelled on a Doge's palace, was blown over in strong winds in 1889 and it was only in 1891 that production of the Albert Axminster commenced in any quantity. John Templeton began a campaign to reduce the high pricing policies of the Axminster carpets within the industry but met fierce competition from Tomkinson & Adam licencees. Many of these companies resisted the price cuts as they also produced the cheaper Wilton and Brussels carpeting, which like Axminster, appealed to the higher end of the market. Templeton succeeded and so when cheap imported American Axminster entered the market in 1893 the firms were able to compete. In March 1895 Templeton's new factory was working night and day shifts, with women weavers working day shifts and men the night shifts producing spool Axminster. By 1900 over 16,000 people were employed producing chenille and Axminster and a further 300 on Wilton and Brussels carpets. The combined capital of the company exceeded £330,000. The Templeton brothers withdrew from active involvement with the company and John's son-in-law, D H L Young, succeeded them, having been a partner since 1887. Under his direction the firm continued to grow until the outbreak of the 1914-1918 World War. By 1913 the firm was the largest carpeting manufacturer in terms of output in the UK and had a capital of £648,000, a sum exceeded only by John Crossley & Sons Ltd of Halifax. As well as producing carpets James Templeton had taken an active interest in his work force. He made substantial donations to the works' Benevolent Trust and helped establish a factory savings bank. In 1938 James Templeton & Co was incorporated as a private limited company. The company provided the carpets for the 1911, 1937 and 1953 coronations in Westminster Abbey as well as providing carpets for the House of Commons, Cunard and P&O steam cruise liners. By 1955 the company had a total of six factories in Glasgow and agencies throughout Europe, the USA and the former British colonies.
Related Material: Please note, GSA Library has digitised the following volumes from its collections related to James Templeton and Co.:
Short essays delivered and now dedicated to the workers of James Templeton & Co.'s and J. & J. S. Templeton's carpet factories: https://archive.org/details/shortessaysdeliv00temp and Carpets and interiors: a guide for architects, decorators, furnishers, hoteliers, shipbuilders: https://archive.org/details/carpetsinteriors00anon
Prior to deposit with Glasgow School of Art, the textiles were held by Stoddard International plc, or its predecessor companies. When it entered receivership in January 2005, Stoddard International held a nationally significant collection of design archives, design library and heritage carpets.
The Glasgow School of Art Library, along with Glasgow University Archives Services and Culture and Sport Glasgow formed a partnership to purchase and safeguard these collections for current and future researchers. Grant funding enabled the 3 partners to purchase the collection, with the archives residing with GUAS, the carpets with Glasgow Museums, and the design library with GSA Library. This collection of carpet samples was transferred to GSA via Glasgow Museums.
Physical Description and Conditions of Use
Conditions governing access
Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections are open for research by appointment. For further details, please refer to our Access Policy @ https://gsaarchives.net/policies
Conditions governing reproduction
Application for permission to reproduce should be submitted to The Archives and Collections at The Glasgow School of Art.
Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of material.
For further details, please refer to our Reprographic Service Guide @ https://gsaarchives.net/policies
Language of material
Script of material
Language and script notes
12 carpet samples and 1 paisley shawl. (Awaiting delivery of 1 tablecover and 1 table runner from Glasgow Museums).
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Place access points
People and Organisations
Genre access points
Level of detail
- Listed by Liz Arthur, Textile Consultant, 2007.
- Exported into CALM, edited and updated by Michelle Kaye, Archives and Collections Assistant, 8th February 2013.
- Archives Hub description updated by Michelle Kaye, Archives and Collections Assistant, 14th May 2013.
- Catalogue imported into Archon software and edited by Michelle Kaye, Archon Project Officer, May 2014.
- Catalogue exported from Archon and imported into AtoM during system migration, 2018-2019.
Finding Aid Authors: The Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections.
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