Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Off to Dundee, a weaver l'll be...

Michael Nairn born in 1804 came from a family of Master Weavers. His great grandfather Andrew Nairn was the Deacon of the Guild of Weavers and his grandfather Robert also worked in weaving. As a young boy Michael would run down to the harbour after school to watch ships arriving from the Baltic ports laden with flax.

Down to the harbour when school skailed, 
To eagerly watch what cargoes sailed,
Coal, canvas and linen are outward bound, 
And in from the Baltic bales of flax abound.

by Penny Sinclair (2013)

Michael was determined to learn the craft of weaving and went to Dundee to serve his apprenticeship.  In 1828 he built a canvas factory at the top of his garden in Coal Wynd, Kirkcaldy.  Over the four floors of the factory were some three dozen handlooms at which weavers produced a variety of canvas including sailcloth, oilcloth, and tarpaulin.  His customers were local and global from Liverpool to Calcutta, Quebec, Montreal, Boston, Jamaica, Adelaide, New York and Philadelphia.

Sailcloth - a page from my sketchbook
2013 Photograph: Penny Sinclair © Penny Sinclair
Reference:
Muir A, (1956), Nairns of Kirkcaldy - A short history 1847 - 1956, Cambridge: W Heffer & Sons Ltd
The Start of the floorcloth industry at The Fife Post

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