Singer sewing machines feature extensively in our collection of second-hand sewing machines, so we were delighted to hear about an up and coming exhibition next year.
West Dunbartonshire Libraries and Cultural Services are looking for #SingerStories for a festival that will take place next year at Clydebank Town Hall. Clydebank was the home of the Singer factory, once the largest factory in the world.
The Libraries and Cultural Services want to hear from people who have memories of the factory, those who worked there, or their family members or anyone who has a Singer sewing machine and why it is special to them.
The factory was completed in 1885, and it gave Clydebank its most famous landmark – a giant 200ft clock tower, once the largest four-faced clock in the world. At its production peak in 1913, the factory occupied a site of more than 100 acres, more than double the area first purchased in 1881. It had manufactured more than 80 percent of the company’s product.
In 1913, it shipped 1,301.851 sewing machines around the world, thanks to its 14,000 employees.
Since its inception in 1851 to the production peak of 1913, the Singer Manufacturing Company saw continuous growth, but the First World War signalled the beginning of a general decline in demand for sewing machines and the Great Depression of the 1930s also hit hard.
During the Second World War, the factory won its first war contract and manufactured tools which were used for aircraft, munitions and equipment. The facility was also bombed during the Clydebank Blitz – March 13 and 14, 1941. It was extensively damaged, although no workers were killed on site. Sadly, 39 workers lost their lives in the town.
During the Second World War, the factory had its own Home Guard company. Platoon Commander Alexander Ballantyne was among them, and his actions during the Clydebank Blitz led to him being awarded the George Medal. He was one of only thirteen people from the Home Guard to receive this award for his work during the war.
When he retired, the Singer Manufacturing Company allowed him to stay in his tied house, rent-free, thanks to what he had done at the factory during the Blitz.
The post-war period saw a steady decline in orders, thanks to the growth in affordable fashion and technological challenges from other companies. In October 1979, Singer announced the factory would close in the summer of 1980.
The #SingerStories festival will take place next year – 3-5 May. If you want to own your little bit of a history, check out our range of Singer second-hand sewing machines.