Make Your Way: Memories of the textile trade, Larkhall

Allison Smith - artist residency

Filed under History & Archaeology

Weaving was prominent in Larkhall during the 18th and 19th centuries, so much so, that during the 1840s, 42% of the population were weavers! Beautiful weavers’ cottages can still be seen throughout Larkhall – a reminder of the now lost industry.

Allison Smith, Artist in Residence, Larkhall for the Make Your Way arts, heritage and active travel project, chose weaving in Larkhall as the focus for her residency. Spot the pattern sliders inspired by the historic industry as you follow the Make Your Way Larkhall trails, available on the link below or under ‘Other Resources’.

During her residency, Allison took to the streets of Larkhall with a hand loom, giving her an opportunity to engage with the public face to face and hear what knowledge and memories of the industry they had. She found strong connections between people and the Avon Water and even the viaduct that towers above it. People shared poetry, memories of industry and life, reminisces of orchards and tales of Celtic heads and even Mary Queen of Scots.

  • Larkhall weavers' cottages

    Larkhall weavers' cottages

  • Bleachfield Dyeworks

    Bleachfield Dyeworks

  • Millheugh summers

    Millheugh summers

  • Larkhall weavers' cottages
  • Bleachfield Dyeworks
  • Millheugh summers

People shared memories and tales with Allison about the Avon Water, which has been an integral part of industry in Larkhall for hundreds of years. Various industries have sat on its banks, including a distillery, a brewery, a waulkmill, an inkle factory, and most recently, the Bleachfield Dyeworks. When speaking about the dyeworks, some people Allison spoke to said, “you never knew which colour the river was going to be the next day!”

This treasured part of nature has always been vital to Larkhall people too. In winter when the river froze over, curling was popular, and in summer, people would paddle and splash around in the cool river. One lady said, “It was our summer holiday! This was before you went abroad, we stayed out as long as possible, prolonging the fun and taking the long road home.”

Oh and my name's on that viaduct! I used to hang off it. Larkhall viaduct

Even the viaduct, once Scotland’s tallest, towering 174 feet above the Avon Water, is held dear in peoples’ hearts. People told tales of ‘walking the boardwalk’ to sign their names on the viaduct, showing how much the structure means to Larkhallians.

In 1932, Daks Simpsons, famed for providing M&S with a range of clothing items, took over the previous Messrs Young, Caldwell & Co. silk factory site, providing full families with employment. When it closed its doors in 2002, it left a huge void in employment and was the last major link with the town’s rich textile heritage.

  • Alison's handmade loom

    Alison's handmade loom

  • Shed stick print

    Shed stick print

  • Shed stick pastel on paper and workman's garage

    Shed stick pastel on paper and workman's garage

  • Handmade loom

    Handmade loom

  • Shed stick print and dyed wool, recalling colours that may have tinted the Avon Water

    Shed stick print and dyed wool, recalling colours that may have tinted the Avon Water

  • Alison's handmade loom
  • Shed stick print
  • Shed stick pastel on paper and workman's garage
  • Handmade loom
  • Shed stick print and dyed wool, recalling colours that may have tinted the Avon Water

Inspired by these stories and memories, Allison created her own artwork and responses. She made a handmade loom and took it with her to a local knit and natter group who meet at the library every Tuesday, who shared their memories with her. Using a shed stick, a tool often used in weaving that helps create a gap between threads, speeding up the weaving process, Allison created prints. She also led a seed sowing walk in Tom Thumb Park, once known for its beautiful flowers.

Seed sowing walk in Tom Thumb Park, Larkhall
Seed sowing walk in Tom Thumb Park, Larkhall

Find out more by reading Allison’s presentation and the Make Your Way Larkhall trails below, or downloading them from under ‘Related links’.

 

Make Your Way is an arts, heritage and active travel campaign, focusing on the communities of Carluke, Glassford, Lanark, Larkhall and Stonehouse, in 2016 – 17. It was delivered by icecream architecture and SYSTRA, with support  from Smarter Choices, Smarter Places grant and is part of the Heritage Lottery Fund supported Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership scheme.


You Might Also Like...


Larkhall Heritage Group

Larkhall Heritage Group

Promoting the heritage of Larkhall

Make Your Way Larkhall

Make Your Way Larkhall

The Broomhill, Colliery, Doon the Braes, and Growers' Trails with links to National Cycle Route 74, the Clyde Walkway and the River Avon.

Larkhall Community Growers

Larkhall Community Growers

Promotion of healthier lifestyles through physical exercise and improved diet

Make Your Way

Make Your Way

Encouraging active travel in the Clyde and Avon Valley through art and heritage

Make Your Way Carluke

Make Your Way Carluke

The Bounds, Jeely and Mill Trails, with links to the Clyde Walkway.

Make Your Way Glassford

Make Your Way Glassford

Round the Yards, Round the White'll, Round the Newark, Round the Stanes, Round the Kittymuir and Round the Burnside, with links to National Cycle Route 74 and the Avon Water.

Make Your Way Lanark

Make Your Way Lanark

The Motte and Bailey, Threshold, Closer Than You Think, Biscuit Crumb and Field-ward Bound Trails, with links to the Clyde Walkway.

Make Your Way Stonehouse

Make Your Way Stonehouse

The Picture and Stone's Throw Trails with links to National Cycle Route 74 and the Avon Water.

The Leadhills & Wanlockhead Railway

The Leadhills & Wanlockhead Railway

Explore the lead mining museum at Wanlockhead and marvel at the skills of the lead miners who dug their shafts to below sea level and excavated miles of tunnels in their search for lead ore and silver.

Collieries: Mapping Underground

Collieries: Mapping Underground

Part of the Mapping the Past trail

MapCRAFT

MapCRAFT

Expressive Mapping in the Clyde and Avon Valley

Mapping the Past Guide

Mapping the Past Guide

A guide to the cartographic heritage of the Clyde and Avon Valley

Trig Points: The Basis for Modern Mapping

Trig Points: The Basis for Modern Mapping

Part of the Mapping the Past trail

Cartland Craigs Trail

Cartland Craigs Trail

A spectacular gorge in the Clyde Valley Woodlands NNR, which can be easily linked with Cleghorn Glen for a fantastic full day's walking.

Cleghorn Glen Trail

Cleghorn Glen Trail

A taste of this wonderful oak and ash ancient woodland, with the option to explore further. Can be linked with Cartland Criags for longer walk.

Falls of Clyde Historic Trail

Falls of Clyde Historic Trail

A historic guide for tourists, by Lady Geraldine Lockhart Ross

Lanark Heritage Trail

Lanark Heritage Trail

Lanark, where Heritage blooms - explore this bustling town & discover historic highlights