Templeton on the Green, Glasgow's Venetian Masterpiece
Templeton on the Green, is one of Glasgow’s most revered buildings, renowned the world over as a masterpiece of architecture, but what do you know of the carpet factory’s chequered and tragic past? Did you know the carpets originally manufactured within, adorned the floors of the Titanic? Or that they took pride in the home of Abraham Lincoln’s wife?
Read on for more astonishing facts surrounding the history of Templeton Carpet Factory, Glasgow’s Venetian Masterpiece.
Borne out of Frustration
James Templeton owner of the original carpet factory had grown so frustrated by Glasgow’s City Fathers refusal to accept any of his redesigns he commissioned renowned architect William Leiper to design something so extravagant, so magnificent they simply couldn’t say no. Drawing inspiration from Doge’s Palace in Venice, Leiper created Templeton & Co Carpet Factory.
Two Tragedies @ Templeton (1)
The Templeton building has faced two tragedies in its illustrious history, the first more publicly known being November 1889, during the construction of a new factory wing. Unusually high winds caused an extension wall to collapse onto a weaving shed below, killing 29 innocent woman and girls.
Two Tragedies @ Templeton (2)
The second less well known tragedy happened in 1900 where the woman finished for the day, had been getting ready to go to a dance, a fire broke out which trapped almost every worker, the majority of them burning alive. Have you ever notice the female statue on the top of Templeton on the Green? It’s In-Memoriam to the tragic girls who died in the fire. (Following the accident, the street was also renamed Templeton Street.)
James Templeton’s Chenille carpets were so sought after, Abraham Lincoln’s wife Mary Todd Lincoln was known to have had them fitted throughout her house.
Thanks to his patented Chenille manufacturing design, James Templeton and Co during the 18th and 19th century became the largest carpet manufacturer on earth, with factories situated on the four corners of the globe.
James Templeton & Co carpets were actually fitted on the (upper class) floors of the titanic.
In 2009, Glasgow University with a £172,000 pounds National Heritage grant purchased the James Templeton & Stoddart archive. The archive included 3,800 design drawings and patterns; 2,000 design sketches; a design library of 1,500 titles including books and journals; 226 carpet pieces and numerous albums of photographs, encapsulating the history of Scottish carpet manufacturing. (Source Glasgow University Archive.)
A Foothold Throughout History
Templeton and Co were considered the most important carpet manufacturer throughout the British Empire, carpeting Westminster Abbey, three separate coronations, Windsor Castle, The White House, the prior mentioned Titanic, Queen Mary Ship and Parliament buildings across the world.
In the 1950’s Templeton and Co were officially Glasgow’s largest employer, employing well over 7000 people.
One of the most famous carpets ever created, Templeton and Co manufactured The 12 Apostles for the 1867 Paris Exhibition (Source “Reports on the Paris universal exhibition, 1867. Vol.2”)
Thanks to Templeton’s revolutionary Chenille patent, in the not too distant future, carpets were able to be manufactured using electrical looms. He also awakened carpet manufacturers throughout the world to the possibility of creating carpets that were as equally beautiful as they were hard wearing.
Titanic Director, James Cameron was searching for complete authenticity during production of the blockbuster movie, he used the original blue prints and designs to recreate the actual carpets that adorned the doomed ship.
The A list building was converted to a modern business centre in 1984, and in 2005 it became part of a 22 million pounds regeneration project which included 143 new apartments. Renamed Templeton on the Green, the grand old building is now home to West Brewery, SportsScotland, Scottish Institute of Sport, Ibiza Digital Media (GlasgowLiving) and dozens of other great companies.