Records of The Central Agency Ltd, selling agents, Glasgow, Scotland

Scope and Content

  • Minute books 1889-1962;
  • Letterbooks/correspondence, 1908-1934;
  • Registers, 1902-1964;
  • Ledgers, 1889-1959;
  • Journals, 1892-1957;
  • Private journals, 1937-1969;
  • Accounts abstracts, 1927-1931;
  • Cash books, 1927-1958;
  • Investments, 1918-1937;
  • Legal papers, 1890-1897;
  • Private salaries book / salaries summary book, 1899-1938;
  • Memorandum and articles of association, 1924-1962;
  • Publications, 1890-1941;
  • Staff recreational records, 1922-1928.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Sewing Cotton Agency, selling agents, Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland, was set up by  J & P Coats Ltd, thread manufacturers, Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland and  Clark & Co Ltd, thread manufacturers, Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland, in  1889 . By the  1880s , both firms were the only major competitors in their field and were major rivals. Both major companies were reducing their prices in order to compete in a limited market for custom. In early 1889, an amicable agreement was reached between the two firms for the setting up of a selling agent, named  The Sewing Cotton Agency. The following year the arrangement was formalised and the name changed to  The Central Agency, with  Jonas Brook & Bros, thread manufacturers, Meltham Mills, Huddersfield, Kirklees, England, joining the partnership. With a capital of £100,000, any profits or losses, were to be borne equally by the partners. It was agreed that the three companies would sell exclusively through The Central Agency, except for those threads they sold or purchased in the United States of America. Each of the three companies was to have at least one director or partner on the board of The Central Agency. On 24 December  1896 , The Central Agency was incorporated and became  The Central Agency Ltd, with its registered address at 89 Wellington Street, Glasgow. It instituted a superannuation fund in January  1906 , which was reconstituted in 1938. Between 1934-1939, J & P Coats Ltd sponsored the Needlework Development in Scotland Scheme, a collaboration between art and design education and industry. The scheme encouraged needlework and, therefore, also the sale of J & P Coats thread. This developed into the nation-wide Needlework Development Scheme managed by The Central Agency Ltd. Loan collections of historical and modern embroideries were developed with examples being purchased by, or donated to, the Scheme. These collections were then exhibited and loaned to schools in order to help teach and promote embroidery as an art form. In 1961, Coats Patons Ltd withdrew funding for the Scheme and it ceased to function. The collection of over 3000 textile items was broken up and disseminated between around 14 universities, colleges and museums in the UK. In 2002, The Central Agency Ltd was still active, based at Wellington Street, Glasgow, Scotland.

On 27 June  The Central Agency (Australia) Limited 1929  was incorporated, as a selling agent for Australia. The registered office was at 89 Wellington Street, Glasgow, Scotland. The Central Agency were the managers. In June 1937 the capital of The Central Agency (Australia) Ltd was increased from £10,000 to £20,000. The company was still trading in 1962.


This material is arranged into series, which consist of numbers of items related by format and/or function. Within series the items are generally arranged chronologically

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Indefinite loan : J & P Coats : Glasgow : c1984

Indefinite loan : Coats Viyella plc : London: 1991 : ACCN 0146 (Additional Deposit)

Indefinite loan : via Business Archives Council in Scotland : 1993 : ACCN 0198* (Additional Deposit)

Indefinite loan : 1995 : ACCN 0240* (Additional Deposit)

Indefinite loan : 1996 : ACCN 0255 (Additional Deposit)

Indefinite loan : Coats Viyella plc : Swinton, Manchester: 2000 : ACCNs 1887, 1925, 1926, 1996

Indefinite loan : ACCN 0054

Other Finding Aids

Digital file level list available in searchroom

Manual file level list available at the National Registers of Archives in Edinburgh (NRA(S)2576) and London (NRA20914)

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the University Archivist

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use & condition of documents

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 248 procedures

Custodial History

Held by J &P Coats Ltd


None expected

Related Material

GB 248 UGD 199/1 Records of J & P Coats Ltd and CoatsPatons Ltd

GB 248 UGD 199/6 Records of Clark & Co Ltd

GB 248 UGD 199/11 Records of Sewing Cotton Agency

GB 248 UGD 199/18 Records of Jonas Brook & Bros Ltd

Records of The Central Agency (Australia) Ltd, 1892-1942 (University of Melbourne, Australia)

See source list on Textiles available via Glagsow University Archive Services homepage at


No known publications using this material

Additional Information

This material is original

No alterations made to date

Geographical Names