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22 Aug 2023

Celebrating the warp and weft of heritage

Written by Sarah Burnett
Two women stand in front of a curtain at a formal event. The lady on the left is the Provost of Renfrewshire and wears a large gold medal. She is holding a framed piece of woven tartan. The lady on the right wears a National Trust for Scotland badge and is holding a wooden plaque.
Provost of Renfrewshire, Councillor Lorraine Cameron, and Ana Sanchez-De la Vega, Visitor Services Manager for 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.

Built in 1723, Weaver’s Cottage is a traditional loom weavers’ cottage, dating from an era when Kilbarchan was at the heart of the Scottish textile industry. Records from the 19th century show the village was home to hundreds of weavers, living and working in cottages like this one.

Remaining in use as a home until 1940, the cottage has been in the care of the National Trust for Scotland since 1957. Today, a team of staff and volunteers conserves and celebrates its history, artefacts and textiles collection, sharing the stories of the cottage and the community with different generations as well as still producing tartan on the 200-year-old handloom.

The Weaver’s Cottage team met the Provost of Renfrewshire and other local representatives at the Bowfield Hotel and Country Club, and were delighted to share with them the history of Weaver’s Cottage, as well as the work we do to conserve it and keep it accessible to the public. The Provost presented the team with a special Renfrewshire Council plaque and, in turn, was gifted with a framed piece of tartan, woven on the looms of Weaver’s Cottage by some of the many visitors who enjoy the experience of trying their hand at traditional weaving techniques.

Provost Lorraine Cameron said: ‘I was delighted to be able to celebrate this fantastic anniversary with the team from Kilbarchan’s Weaver’s Cottage.’

“Preserving the history of Renfrewshire’s weaving and textile trade is so important and the National Trust for Scotland does an incredible job keeping alive the stories and memories of the people who lived and worked here.”
Lorraine Cameron
Provost of Renfrewshire

Ana Sanchez-De la Vega, the National Trust for Scotland’s Visitor Services Manager for Weaver’s Cottage, added: ‘Having the Provost celebrate our tercentenary was the latest highlight in a remarkable year, which has also seen Weaver’s Cottage celebrated by the Scottish Parliament, featured on television, and having some of our textiles on show at V&A Dundee’s Tartan exhibition. We are so proud that the Provost and Renfrewshire Council have recognised the importance of wonderful Weaver’s Cottage as a piece of cultural heritage and our charity’s work in caring for and sharing it with people from all over the world as well as for the local community.’

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’.

The celebration hosted by the Provost followed a Renfrewshire Council motion congratulating Weaver’s Cottage on its tercentenary. The motion, submitted by Councillor Gillian Graham and approved unanimously, looked forward to many more successful years for this historic venue.

To mark the 300th anniversary of the building of the cottage, we’ve added 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 our Trust-wide objective to provide access to, and enjoyment of, heritage for everyone. 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.

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

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