Scottish Fact of the Day: Templeton Carpet Factory

The former Templeton Carpet Factory which overlooks Glasgow Green. Picture: TSPL
The former Templeton Carpet Factory which overlooks Glasgow Green. Picture: TSPL
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Glasgow’s Templeton Carpet Factory was at one point the largest carpet manufacturer in the world with its chenille carpets a much sought-after status symbol.

Founder James Templeton was originally a draper by trade and started a shawl manufacturing business in Paisley with money saved up while carrying out his craft in Mexico.

It was in Paisley that Templeton and Irish weaver William Quiglay developed the technique behind chenille carpets.

Quiglay was experimenting with chenille, a round fabric popular in the manufacture of curtains, when he discovered that through steaming and pressing he was able transform the material into a fine and smooth fabric.

Templeton then added a backing to the chenille which gave it strength and the toughness required for carpeting.

The Campbeltown man went on to set up a factory in the Calton area of Glasgow which subsequently burned down in 1856.

He then moved his operation to William Street (now Templeton Street) which was expanded in 1889 with the building modelled on Doge’s Palace in Venice.

Templeton was renowned for its picture carpets which were commissioned by the rich and aristocracy. Others were made for exhibitions such as the Twelve Apostles Carpet manufactured for the Parish exhibition of 1867.

Mrs Abraham Lincoln was also known to have a Templeton carpet in her home.

Templeton’s demise started in 1969 when it bought Grays of Ayr which put it under financial strain and led to a partial buy out by the Guthrie Corporation - a rubber and palm oil firm that was looking to break into the carpet industry.

A downturn in the industry led to Templeton’s being taken over by Stoddart Carpets in 1981 with its manufacturing facilities closing shortly afterwards.

The former Templeton factory remains one of Glasgow’s most iconic and exotic buildings and is now a residential complex alongside being home to the West Brewery.