Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Sewing Machine Collection & Singer Archive gains recognition

On July 25, 2013, the Sewing Machine Collection & Singer Archive cared for by West Dunbartonshire Council became Scotland’s 39th Recognised Collection of National Significance.

I only discovered the Recognised Collections at the start of this year, and the list was indeed only 38 then, when I wrote up a short summary: Scotland’s Recognised Collections

I found this helped, as these collections can become a little complicated – some collections are spread over a number of museums in different locations, while some museums hold a number of collections.

To achieve this status, a museum must show that its collection is of national importance, and with some 800+ examples of sewing machines in it collection, that was probably not too hard. Operating until its closure in 1980, the Singer factory became a significant factor in the economy of Clydebank, and once employed 16,000 workers. The collection has it roots in the closure of the Singer factory, when a request was made by former employees for old machines, in order to create a museum. From there, the collection grew, assisted by appeals and support from people who donated old machines to the collection.

The American corporation built its flagship European headquarters in Clydebank in 1885, after outgrowing its Glasgow premises. At its height it employed 15,000 staff on a 50-acre site, making more machines than its rivals put together.

Ray Macfarlane, Chair of Museums Galleries Scotland’s Recognition Committee, said: “The quality and importance of this collection is unequivocal and it is not only of national but of international significance. This is reflected in the collection being the largest in Europe of its kind and second only to the Smithsonian Institution globally.”

It has been described as the largest publicly accessible collection of its kind in Europe, and has machines from 130 different manufacturers from Europe, America, and Asia, and  documents the development of sewing machine technology over nearly 100 years.

Via Clydebank sewing machine museum given Recognised Collection status | Glasgow & West | News | STV

And Clydebank Museum collection sews up bid For National Recognition

You can get an idea of the scale of the Singer factory from this aerial view of the Singer Sewing Machine Factory, Kilbowie Street, Clydebank. Oblique aerial photograph taken facing west. | Britain from Above

After its closure in 1980, it was eventually demolished during the 1990s, and the site became a business park.

The most memorable feature of the factory was it clock tower, for which the company created the largest clock face in the world – the Singer’s Clock, a 26-foot wide timepiece mounted on top of a 226-foot tower, decorated with Roman numeral hours measuring 2 feet high and having hands around 6-feet long. It took four men a quarter of an hour to wind the giant clock mechanism twice a week.

The tower was demolished in the 1960s, shortly after the clock had stopped ticking, but in 2013, a smaller installation inspired by the original was installed in Clydebank’s Dalmuir Park.

The following news reports show the two version:

The Singer sculpture that turns back time | News | Clydebank Post

Clydebank Singer factory clock artwork unveiled – Heritage – The Scotsman

25/07/2013 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Scotland’s Recognised Collections

History book

I wasn’t even aware of the existence of Scotland’s Recognised Collections until a few weeks ago, when I came across the term in another blog, didn’t recognise it, and decided to do some digging.

I found that this referred to a group of collections (38 at the time of writing) managed by Museums Galleries Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government, under the Recognition Scheme, which was introduced in 2007 to identify and support the most important, best-quality, collections of historic artefacts and artworks in Scotland’s local and regional museums and galleries:

Speaking in 2013, Scottish Government Minister, Humza Yousaf, said:

Our Recognised Collections contain some of Scotland’s most important, best quality historic artefacts and artworks held in museums and galleries right across the country, from Kirkwall to Annan and Dundee to Inveraray. Many Scots have a Recognised Collection practically on their doorstep.

The Year of Creative Scotland has been an unparalleled celebration of our nation’s rich creativity. Now it has drawn to a close I urge all Scots to help build its legacy by searching out and visiting the many treasures in our brilliant Recognised Collections.

Museums Galleries Scotland manages the Recognition Scheme on behalf of the Scottish Government.  Joanne Orr, Chief Executive of Museums Galleries Scotland, added:

In Scotland we enjoy some of the finest museum collections in the world. The Recognised Collections represent the absolute best of what some of our museums and galleries have to offer. From Orkney to Dumfries and Galloway visitors are inspired by collections of remarkable historic and social significance – whether they contain great wonders of past ages to everyday objects that were the essence of life for our ancestors.

Museums Galleries Scotland has a list of all the collections which fall within the Recognition Scheme, in the form of a pdf document which can be found here:

The Recognised Collections – A full list of the Recognised Collections with descriptions

I would have listed them, but it would only have become confusing, as some collections are spread over a number of museums in different locations, while some museums hold a number of collections.

You really need to look at the full listing in the document noted above.

However, by way of illustration, these ten collections were listed with the 2013 article mentioned above:

  • The Charles Rennie Mackintosh Collection of Glasgow School of Art
  • The entire collection of the Hunterian. University of Glasgow
  • The industrial and associated social history of North Lanarkshire Council
  • The entire collection cared for by Pier Arts Centre, Stromness
  • The Palaeontology and fossil collection at Elgin Museum
  • The RRS Discovery and Polar Collection cared for by Dundee Heritage Trust, Discovery Point, Dundee.
  • The Jute Collections cared for by Dundee Heritage Trust, Scotland’s Jute Museum @ Verdant Works, Dundee
  • The entire collection held by the British Golf Museum, St Andrews
  • The entire collection cared for by the National Mining Museum, Newtongrange
  • The core collection cared for by the Scottish Railway Preservation Society, Bo’Ness

Looking at the whole list, it looks like something that would take a considerable time to work one’s way around – and plan carefully too, given the cost of fuel, and ferries.

04/02/2013 Posted by | council | , , , , | Leave a comment


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