the history spot
New Renfrewshire Local History Forum Publication
Kilbarchan and the Handloom Weavers
by Helen Calcluth
Little has been published on the history of Kilbarchan since 1902 when the local minister, Rev. Robert MacKenzie, wrote his book , ‘Kilbarchan: A Parish History’. That excellent work is very informative and well worth reading but MacKenzie made little mention of the handloom weaving industry which had dominated the village for the previous one hundred and fifty years and, obviously, nothing on weaving in the twentieth century. Of the three hundred pages in his book, only one page is devoted specifically to the weaving industry.
Helen wrote ‘Kilbarchan and the Handloom Weavers’ because she felt there was a need to research and record the history of handloom weaving in Kilbarchan.
The plans for Kilbarchan and the Handloom Weavers’ began as a simple investigation into the history of weaving in Kilbarchan from the seventeenth century to the 1950s, when the last handloom weaver in the village plied his trade. The aim was twofold – firstly to collate any information available on the types of textiles woven in the village and, secondly, to find out more about the daily life of the Kilbarchan weavers.
Her research into the weaving trade expanded and the book includes, in addition, information on early local waulkmills and lint mills and a chapter on the nineteenth century printworks at nearby Locher. Research into the lives of the Kilbarchan weavers has resulted in a considerable part of the book dealing with the social history of the village, including some biographical information on individual weavers and others involved in the textile trade.
For anyone interested in the history of Kilbarchan the book, published by Renfrewshire Local History Forum, will be on sale in Bobbins Coffee Shop, Steeple Street, Kilbarchan, in June or can be purchased from our website: www.rlhf.info
© 2018, Gina Fisher, Renfrewshire Local History Forum