Conserving the warp and weft of heritage

A view of the exterior of Weaver’s Cottage.

Weaver’s Cottage, where Kilbarchan weavers still make textiles on a 200-year-old working handloom, is celebrating its 300th anniversary in 2023. Weaver’s Cottage is one of over 100 special places in the care of the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) , ranging from castles to gardens to National Nature Reserves such as Glencoe and Staffa. Although perhaps modest in scale compared to some of these places, Weaver’s Cottage tells important and fascinating stories about textile production and its part in Scotland’s economic, social and cultural history.

The 18th century weavers from this Renfrewshire cottage would be astonished to discover that their lives and work are attracting the interest of the Scottish Parliament, as well as visitors from all over the world. The cottage was recently the subject of a parliamentary motion in the Scottish Parliament, submitted by the local MSP, that celebrates ‘that this cherished piece of local history and Kilbarchan heritage is preserved, and hopes that Weaver’s Cottage will continue to be visited and learned about for years to come’.

Hand-woven textiles were the lifeblood of many communities

A 200-year-old wooden hand loom.

Ana Sanchez-de la Vega, Visitor Services Manager for Weaver’s Cottage, explains: “The displays at the cottage transport our visitors back to a time when hand-woven textiles were the lifeblood of many communities. At one point in the 19th century, the village of Kilbarchan was home to over 800 weavers, living and working at looms in cottages such as this.” Ana continues: “At Weaver’s Cottage – where weavers still make tartan today on a 200-year-old handloom – we offer a window into those times, helping people relate to the lives and stories of that community, whose tartans and textiles have stood the test of time. It’s thanks to the support of our National Trust for Scotland members, donors, volunteers and visitors that we are able to conserve this special place, and share its stories and textiles for new generations today.”

Weaver’s Cottage was built in 1723 and remained in use as a home until 1940. It has been in the care of the National Trust for Scotland since 1957. To mark the 300th anniversary of the building of the cottage, NTS have added a new garden and video interpretation. This helps visitors to delve deeper into the history and significance of the cottage and the weaving industry, in alignment with the NTS wide objective to provide access to, and enjoyment of, heritage for everyone.

Also this year, NTS have loaned textiles from the cottage’s collections, including tartan samples and a quilt, to the Tartan exhibition at V&A Dundee.

Text and images are courtesy of the National Trust for Scotland. For more information on the Trust or to help them protect Scotland’s heritage see:

Leave a comment

Select your currency