Saving Glasgow’s carpet heritage – and putting the fun back into flooring

Design and corporate archive, heritage carpet collection and design library of James Templeton & Co Ltd and Stoddard International plc jointly acquired by the University of Glasgow, Glasgow Museums and Glasgow School of Art in 2009 with an NFA grant of £20,000.

The Stoddard-Templeton Collection is a fascinating record from the mid nineteenth century onwards of carpet manufacturers Stoddard International plc and James Templeton & Co Ltd, companies at the forefront of carpet design and production innovation worldwide for over two centuries. Their carpets could be found in parliament buildings in London, Canberra, Wellington and Cape Town, in Westminster Abbey for three successive coronations, on ocean liners including the Titanic, and in countless family homes. The archive contains patterns by some of the UK’s most significant designers, including Christopher Dresser, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Mary Quant who produced designs which aimed to put ‘the fun back into flooring’. Brought together by Stoddard International plc in the late twentieth century, the collection encompasses sources for design inspiration, the records of design and manufacture, and samples of the finished product itself.

Advertisement for James Templeton & Co Carpet Manufacturers featuring their Glasgow factory

Advertisement for James Templeton & Co Carpet Manufacturers featuring their Glasgow factory

Thanks to awards from a range of funders, including a £20,000 grant from the National Fund for Acquisitions, the University of Glasgow acquired the Stoddard-Templeton Collection from Stoddard International plc (in liquidation) in April 2009.  The University had been working with key partners in Glasgow Museums and Glasgow School of Art and with the company, its administrators, and liquidators since 2005 to ensure the valuable collection remained in Glasgow and accessible to the public.

Design sketch for a carpet in the First Class lounge on the Cunard Liner RMS 'Aquitania' launched in 1913

Design sketch for a carpet in the First Class lounge of the Cunard Liner RMS ‘Aquitania’ launched in 1913

Design for a carpet by Mary Quant whose stated aim was to 'put the fun back into flooring'

Design for a carpet by Mary Quant whose stated aim was to put ‘the fun back into flooring’

Drawing together the strengths of the city’s educational and heritage institutions was key to the success of the acquisition. The specialist knowledge and expertise for the management and provision of access to the three parts of the collection – the Design Library, the Design and Corporate Archives, and the Heritage Carpet Collection – were found within the three project partners.  Acting together allowed us to have a strong voice with the administrator and then liquidator in negotiating the acquisition of the collection.  Since acquiring the collection we continue to co-ordinate our work in managing it.

Carpet for Glasgow Cathedral designed by R Scott McDonald c1963

Carpet for Glasgow Cathedral designed by R Scott McDonald c1963

Highlights from the collection include:

  • A copy of the chenille carpet made by Templeton’s for Glasgow Cathedral, with a central feature of a Burning Bush and a border of the symbols of the City of Glasgow, the bell, robin, hazel branch and salmon
  • The Twelve Apostles carpet made by Templeton’s for the Universal Exposition in Paris in 1867, featuring the central figure of Christ flanked on either side by six Apostles, measuring over 12 metres in length
  • A piece of carpet from the trial of Tapestry Velvet, made under the patent of Richard Whytock around 1836
  • Templeton’s design sketches for the Festival Pattern Group which brought together X-ray crystallographers, designers and manufacturers
  • Carpet designs commissioned as part of the ‘By Mary Quant for Templeton Carpets’ range
  • A number of designs bought from Silver Studio in the 1890s.

Clare Paterson
Assistant Archivist
University of Glasgow Archive Services

http://www.gla.ac.uk/services/archives/

http://www.glasgowlife.org.uk/museums/Pages/home.aspx

http://www.gsa.ac.uk/

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