R G Neill and Son, Ltd

Scope and Content

Fabric samples, history and leaflets.

Administrative / Biographical History

The firm was established in 1918 by Robert G Neill and his son John Neill. They had originally been in business with Simpson and Fairburn of Earlston but due to a disagreement left and set up on their own. They bought Kilncleuch Mill which was in the south part of Langholm and renamed it Glenesk Mill. This had been built in 1895 and was the last to be built before WWI. John Neill had been an early student of the Galashiels Combined Technical College and was one of the first students to receive a Silver Medal for City and Guilds examinations. Mr Robert Neill died in 1930,aged 75 but the firm continued as a family business.

During WWII the firm had government contracts for khaki serge and greatcoatings. After the war the firm was run by Director Mr S Laidlaw and designer Mr J Harkness. The loom width was standardised to 90 inches which meant a much improved production efficiency. Also, in the 1950s the taste for men's clothes changed with lighter overcoatings, sports jackets and cheviots twists becoming popular. Neills had a great deal of success in producing twist cloth for the domestic and export market - in particular to Denmark, the low countries and Japan. A large amount of work was outsourced because of labour shortages. By the 1960s demand for woven woollen garments had reduced because it was much less fashionable, but the firm reacted by introducing lighter cloth and mercerised cotton decoration for menswear suiting which kept the firm profitable. In 1961 William Johnstone joined the firm as a designer and in 1965 the firm was taken over by Illingworth Morris & Co Ltd, which by then owned many textile firms in Scotland and Yorkshire such as J & J Crombie. Throughout the 1970s with Bill Johnstone as Design Director the firm built an international reputation for innovative design in both mens and womens wear. In 1986 he left to found Neill Johnstone Ltd. The firm finally closed in 1998.


Arranged chronologically in accordance with the classification scheme.

Access Information

By appointment at the Scottish Borders Campus. Closure periods may apply to records containing personal information and access to records in a fragile condition may be restricted.

Other Finding Aids

Item level descriptions on CALM database.

Archivist's Note

Description created by Helen Taylor, Archivist, Heriot-Watt University

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies can be supplied for educational use and private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents. Permission to publish material from the Archive must be sought in advance from the University Archivist. Responsibility for obtaining copyright clearance rests with the applicant.

Custodial History

The fabric appears to have been used for a display at the Scottish College of Textiles in 1973, and then kept as a teaching aid.


Accruals are not expected.

Location of Originals

The collection is original.