Friday photo: Scottish Home Industries Association

Home Spun Tweeds, Uist Depot, Lochmaddy

The Scottish Home Industries Association was founded by the Countess of Rosebery, the daintily named Hannah Primrose who in 1874 became the richest woman in Britain, having inherited her father’s wealth on his death. 

Founded in 1889, the Association sought to promote the sale of and ensure a fair payment to workers making household crafts, and in particular in the Western Isles, tweed. This arose out of a very Victorian backlash to mass industry:

It is no doubt true that the cost of producing factory made articles is less, but these, apart from any questions of  strength and durability, can never have the value and interest of the home-made, nor bear the impress of the originality of the producer

(Sorry Kirsty, you are a bit late in the game)

The items were evidence of  ‘how the spare time of the peasantry was pleasantly and profitably occupied in the long winter evenings’.  I don’t know how pleasant hand-carding endless piles of wool is, but the marketing paid off, and depots (such as the above in Lochmaddy) opened across the Western Isles, delivering work to Edinburgh and London. 

In time, further organisations such as the Harris Tweed Association and the Crofters Agency were set up carrying out much of the same duties, resulting in the voluntary liquidation of the Association in 1957.  

For more information ask your librarian for a copy of ‘Scottish Home Industries’ by Ross (source of excerpts above).

About David Powell

Project Manager and Archivist with Tasglann nan Eilean Siar
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