Thursday 26 November 2009

Archive Staff Recommend: Minutes of the Dundee Power Loom Tenters Society

This is the first of our Archive Staff Recommend features which will showcase items from the collections that we find interesting or striking. We hope that you enjoy them too.

The Dundee Power Loom Tenters Society Minute Book (MS 65) is a very interesting item for many reasons. Firstly, the item provides very detailed records of a Dundee based textile trade union from a time when the textile industry was still at the centre of Dundee’s economic life. Many records of Dundee workers have not survived and the vast majority of the surviving records of the textile industry in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries relate to the running of the mills rather than to those who worked in them.

Secondly, the book has a beautiful, hand-drawn frontispiece giving the dates the book covers. The inside cover of the book also features an attractive design bordered by a flower which records the date of the establishment of the society. These must have taken someone hours to create and were clearly drawn by a talented individual.

Finally, this is an item with an interesting history. After the demise of the Society it is believed that for much of the twentieth century it remained in Dundee in private hands, but at some point it seems to have been disposed of, possibly after its owner died. The volume was eventually sold at an antiques fair in England where it was bought by a book dealer who had planned to sell it via an online auction. Thankfully it was noticed by a member of ARMMS staff and the seller was persuaded to withdraw it and entered negotiations which saw the item return to Dundee in 2006.

However, it is understood that at least one other minute book belonging to the society survived and left Dundee at the same time as its brother. If anyone knows the fate or whereabouts of this book, or any other records relating to the Dundee Power Loom Tenters Society, ARMMS would be very interested to hear from you.

Written by Kenneth Baxter

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