Scottish Woollen Technical College

Scope and Content

Records of the Board of Governors 1923-1982; Records of Administration 1924-1967; Academic records 1958; Departmental records 1927-1966; Examination results 1948-1975; Student records 1929-1960; Publications 1922-1968; Photographs 1933-1968; Publicity material 1965-1967

Administrative / Biographical History

In 1920 a decision was made to approach the Scotch Education Department in order to change the status of the College to that of a Central Institution. It was agreed that an incorporated association should be formed by the Scottish Woollen Manufacturers Association to take over responsibility for operating and financing the College from the Selkirk Education Authority, so enabling the College to become a Central Institution. In 1922 the College was incorporated under the Companies Acts, and was established as the Scottish Woollen Technical College.

A Governing Body was established, with statutory powers to fulfil on behalf of the Institution. All academic matters were required to be delegated to an Academic Council, and a College Principal appointed to deal with the day to day affairs of the College. The first Principal was Dr. T. Oliver. In 1923, the College was granted Scottish Central Institution status, allowing it to award degrees directly to its students via the College Diploma and Associateships, and of dealing with external validating bodies such as CNAA. Degree and post graduate programmes were subsequently established.

Emphasis was on practical training, offering classes in Textile Technology, Engineering, Building Construction and the Arts. In 1925 the first College Diplomas was awarded in wool manufacture, dyeing and textile chemistry. In 1948 a unique development was the opening of the Production Unit, a self contained woollen textile mill, installed with a wide range of machinery suitable for the training of cloth darners and menders, weavers and a whole range of other skilled workers. The practical work was carried out on a commission basis for commercial mills and the income helped to reduce the actual cost of training and education.

In the early 1960’s it was agreed that two new academic departments be created to reflect the change in direction of the educational work of the college. They were the Department of Design, and the Department of Management Studies. In 1962, courses in Textile Technology, Textile Design and Management Studies were introduced. Courses were now offered at various levels, the highest being equivalent to honours degree standard in Textile Design and Technology. City and Guilds courses for apprentices were now dealt by a specialist group of lecturing staff with wide industrial experience. In 1964 the Industrial Training Act was passed, and the practical craft type of courses for weavers, darners etc. were phased out, as training was transferred through the Wool, Jute and Flax Industry Training Board to individual firms. In-plant training was now the fashion.

New College buildings were completed in 1964. The College had progressed from the monotech - specialising in Textile Education, to that of a polytech, providing courses in business studies, accounting, computer data processing, management and marketing. The Institute was now interested in not only the traditional courses of woollen weaving, spinning, dyeing and design but also a full range of textile fibrous materials and processes. The spinning workshops included cotton and man-made fibre processing machinery, the dyehouse included a whole range of textile colouration and finishing plant and fabric production covered carpet manufacture, warp and weft knitting and narrow fabric weaving. In 1968 the College was renamed the Scottish College of Textiles to reflect this development.

Access Information

By appointment at the Scottish Borders Campus, Heriot-Watt University, Netherdale, Galashiels.

Other Finding Aids

A printed list is available in the search room.

Archivist's Note

Revision compiled by Helen Taylor, Archivist, Heriot-Watt University Archive, Records Management and Museum Service.