The following is an extract taken from the "Statistical Account" of Barony, Glasgow by the Rev. John Burns, written between 1791-1798, published in 1799.


The weaving manufacture is carried on to a great extent in this parish, there being at present upwards of 3000 looms employed. Within these 10 years, however, this branch of manufacture has undergone an almost total change. Before that time, they were employed in lawns, shirting, check, and handkerchiefs, linen handkerchiefs for printing, and blounks, consisting of linen-warp, and cotton-weft, which were printed for neck-handkerchiefs, gowns, and bed-furniture. But now they are almost wholly in the muslin line, very few lawns or checks being manufactured in this place.

Though the muslin trade has been but lately established, yet it has already risen to great perfection. And were the importation of East India muslins in some measure restrained, and the fine cotton wool brought home, it is impossible to say what extent this branch might be carried, and how much this country might be benefited by it. But as the manufactures of this parish are immediately connected with the city of Glasgow, they will be more properly and fully treated of there.

It is therefore unnecessary to say any thing farther of them in this place. Only it may be proper to take notice of the improvements introduced by Mr. George Mackintosh, a gentleman whose spirited and successful exertions have been of the greatest benefit to the manufactures of this country, and by whom I have been favoured with the following account: The cudbear manufacture carried on here, under the firm of George Mackintosh and Co. was begun in the year 1777, occupying about 1 acres of ground, compactly built, and well walled round with stone and lime.

This is a manufacture for making a dye-stuff, now becoming an useful article, and employed chiefly in the woollen and silk manufactures of Britain, and is made from an excrescence that grows upon rocks and stones, a species of the liechen or rock-moss, which, with certain chemical preparations, makes a dye-stuff called cudbear. It was known and used as a dye-stuff in the Highlands of Scotland by the name of corkes or crottel, some hundred years ago. But it was Messrs. George and Cuthbert Gordon, (now Dr. Cuthbert Gordon), who first attempted, and had the merit of bringing the process to a regular system. They, in conjunction with the Messrs. Alexanders of Edinburgh, erected a manufacture for it in Leith, in which they persevered for several years. But it proved in the end unsuccessful.

Considerable improvements have been made in the manufacture since its establishment in Glasgow. And the Company finding that the rock-moss in Scotland would soon be exhausted, early sent a person of skill to explore the rocks of Sweden and Norway, whence they, for some time past, import all they use. But there it is also beginning to be scarce. Russia appears to produce none of it.

This manufacture consumes a very considerable quantity of human urine; above 2000 gallons a-day. They have about 1500 iron-bound casks dispersed among the manufacturing and tradesmen's houses in Glasgow and suburbs. For each cask full they pay a certain price, which, with the expense of collecting, costs them about 800l. a-year, for an article which formerly ran in waste through the kennels and drains of the streets.

The dying of Turkey red on cotton, though a very late discovery in this kingdom, was established in Glasgow earlier than in any part of Great Britain. In the year 1785, Mr. George Mackintosh being in London, fell in with Monsieur Papillon, a Turkey red dyer from Rouen, carried him with him to Glasgow, and, in conjunction with Mr. David Dale, built an extensive dye-house at Dalmarnock in this parish, upon the banks of the river Clyde, where cotton is dyed a real Turkey red, equal in beauty and solidity to East India colours.

There is another dyehouse, equally extensive, lately erected for the same purpose, in the neighbourhood of this one, also in the barony parish, under the management of Mr. Papillon, who is now connected with another Company. At both places the Turkey red colours are now made in great perfection. By means of these establishments, the ingenious and industrious manufacturers of this place are enabled to make cotton-pulicate handkerchiefs, equal in beauty and quality to any in the known world. And although the Messrs. Bouilles (one of whom is fixed at Manchester) did obtain a premium from Parliament for the Turkey red, the business was first established here; and specimens of manufactured pulicates of a superior colour, it is said, were produced before a committee of the House of Commons, (made by Mr. Mackintosh, who was the first who manufactured any here) while Mr. Bouille could only produce cuts of cotton-yard done by him.

It is now computed that there are above 1500 looms employed in this branch of pulicate alone, in Glasgow and neighbourhood. This colour is so fast, or fixed, that when wove with brown cotton, or linen yarn, it resists and stands the whole process of bleaching, and acquires more beauty and lustre by this trying operation; and when wrought in with bleached yarn, requires 24 hours boiling in soap and ashes, to reduce it to its vivid standard.

Acids, which destroy most other reds, in a moderate degree, improve this. Making Turkey red is a most intricate and troublesome process, requiring about 15 different operations in the common course of dying.

Near to the cudbear manufacture, is just now commenced a business carried on by George and Charles Mackintosh, entirely new in this, or, we believe, in any other country. It is the making of a newly discovered chymical preparation, which answers as a real substitute in dying and printing, for saccharum saturni, or sugar of lead and allum. It is hoped it will be an useful undertaking, as hitherto all, or by far the greatest part of the sugar of lead used in Britain has been imported from Holland.

These ingenious and economical people, though a duty of 3d. the pound is imposed on this article when imported, and though receiving their lead from Britain, yet have hitherto been able to undersell all who have made any attempt of the same kind in this kingdom. Mr. Mackintosh and his son Charles intended this for a sugar of lead business; but in the course of their experiments in that way, this improvement occurred to Charles Mackintosh, who is a very able chymist; and the work is now entirely employed for this purpose.

They supply the printers with this preparation at a lower rate than that which is usually made from the Dutch sugar of lead. The principal printfields in the country have tried, are now using, and approve of it, as making an equally fixed, and, at the same time, a more beautiful colour than that done in the usual manner with sugar of lead and allum. And I understand they can supply the whole consumpt of the country.

In the year 1784, a cotton mill was built at North Woodside in this parish, by Mr. William Gillespie, which gives employment to about 400 persons, men, women and children. This, with the people engaged in the bleachfield, and otherwise, has made Woodside a considerable village, while it has become the seat of plenty and comfort, the happy consequence of industry and manufactures.

Sensible of the advantages of religion and good morals, to promote the industry and happiness of the people, the benevolent proprietor pays particular attention to these. He has not only engaged a master to teach the children, through the week, to read, but he has also fitted up, and supports at his own expense, a place for public worship on the Lord's day, where a decent congregation regularly assembles. And in the afternoon, the preacher publicly catechises and instructs the children. The knowledge thus diffused among the children and the inhabitants of that part of the parish, is an honourable testimony to the fidelity and diligence of Mr. James Steven the preacher; and the good effects, it is to be hoped, will extend, at least among some, much farther than merely that regularity, sobriety, and industry which serve so much to promote their temporal prosperity and comfort. The yarn spun at this mill, employs about 450 weavers, exclusive of those who get their bread by winding, starching, &c.