Alexander Morton & Co, Lace Manufacturers

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Records of Pattern Design, Loose designs and catalogues.

Administrative / Biographical History

Alexander Morton Senior started life as a hand-loom weaver taking over the business of his late brother-in-law William Bowie in 1867. His first breakthrough was in improving the weave of the leno curtains the firm produced by adding in a warp twist weft. His business expanded and in 1874 he saw a Levers lace maching on a visit to London made by Sharman and Tilson and visited the factory in Nottingham. The investment to purchase the machine was provided by family members and friends and led to the creation of Alexander Morton and Co.

The company continuted to grow and diversify. Lace curtains and Madras Muslin continued to be produced in Darvel. Chenille curtains were produced in Carlisle and a factory producing hand knotted carpets was established in Killibegs, County Donegal, Ireland in 1896 which became very fashionable. The firm bought designs from most of the leading Arts and Crafts designers such as Silver Studios, Brangwyn, Charles Voysey and Baillie Scott. They supplied firms such as Liberty's and Wylie and Lochhead and rugs they produced graced 10 Dowing Street. In 1905 the firm started the production of printed fabrics and in 1906 this was moved to a new subsidiary company Morton Sundour in Carlise headed up by his son James Morton.

One of Alexander's other sons Guy was a designer and inventor of machinery. He went to Carlisle to work for Morton Sundour, where he designed and made carpets. Eventually he moved back to Kilmarnock, where with a Mr Blackwood he established Blackwood and Morton Kilmarnock Ltd known as BMK. He later bought Mr Blackwood out of business and BMK eventually became part of Templeton-Stoddard.

Guy Morton married Minnie Fairweather, whose daughter Mary married Mr Richmond a Lace manufacturer in Kilmarnock and owner of Fleming's Lace. In 1998 this company merged with Scott and Fife.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is located at the Scottish Borders Campus in Galashiels and access is available by appointment. Some volumes are in poor condition and large and quite difficult to handle.

Acquisition Information

The collection was donated in 2001.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogue database available in the serach room.

Archivist's Note

Description created by Helen Taylor, Archivist, Heriot-Watt University in 2012.

Related Material

Archives of BMK are available at Glasgow University Archive Services

Archives of Silver Studios are available at Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture at Middlesex University

Archives of Morton family of Darvel are available at the National Records of Scotland

Fabric samples of woven fabric by Alexander Morton are at the V & A and images are available on-line.

Bibliography

Three Generations in a Family Textile Firm by Jocelyn Morton. Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd, London. 1971

Geographical Names