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History of the Scottish Borders Manufacturers' Corporation



Formed in 1776 by ten mill owners, the Corporation was created to assist the further development of the woollen trade in Galashiels. It had its own set of rules; although there are no records of those until 1790 that included existing regulations covering apprenticeships. There was by then, twenty three mill owners in the Corporation.

An early service provided by the Corporation was the facility, through combined purchase, for individual companies to hire machinery that would have been impractical to acquire themselves, such as a willy or scribble dicks as the teasing machine was called.

Although the original Corporation flag was destroyed during one of the annual Michaelmas Day dinners, the replacement adopted the motto used by the dyers guild, this trade being a crucial part of the industry in the area.

The Corporation built a Cloth Hall in Galashiels, which was opened on 30th July 1792. 3,300 yards of cloth was put up for sale, with everything being sold out completely in 10 minutes, at the average price of 3/- (15p) per yard.

In 1821, the Corporation invited Sir Walter Scott and Lady Scott to be their guests of honour at the Corporations annual celebrations, which commenced with the procession of trades through the town. The procession included the Deacon who would carry the Corporation books, and either side of him came two quarter masters carrying halberds. The manufacturers with their flag would follow next.

At 3 o'clock the corporation's members and their guests sat down to dinner, after which speeches were made and songs sung. As was the custom in those days the speech made by the deacon was recorded word for word in the local paper (Border Standard).

By 1829 the number of manufacturers had risen to 34 and the annual turnover was estimated at £26,000. Little is recorded about the corporation activities from the middle of the 19th century other than the annual dinner and dance and the presentation of a new Deacon.

Today the corporation reflects the wider Borders economy and includes both manufacturing and service based businesses. An annual dinner is still held which continues to attract leading politicians and industrial personalities, underlining the continued importance of the Borders businesses to the local economy.

 
The Scottish Borders Manufacturers' Corporation