Calico Printers

Calico Printers. Stephen Adam. 1877-80. The Maryhill Burgh Halls, Glasgow. Click on image to enlarge it.

“Possibly the most interesting panels are those depicting women textile workers, The Bleachers and The Calico Printers. Maryhill in the 1870s still had a calico printworks, established back in the 1830s. Barr’s Kelvindale Works had seen a violent strike in 1834 when the factory was employed by the military and a striking workman George Millar was killed by a "nab" (scab). Millar’s fellow workmen erected a memorial to him in Maryhill Old Kirk graveyard. This industry was in decline when Adam did his panel, and the factory closed soon afterwards. Thomson’s Memories of Maryhill, dating from 1895, describes the works as having been demolished. The fact that the bleachers are whitening the cloth in sunlight (after it would have been soaked in urine) rather than using a chemical bleaching process possibly indicates- as do some of the other panels- the technologically backward nature of Maryhill’s industry at this time. On the other hand some of the woman in The Calico Printers panel have (probably self-provided) head gear, and (again probably self-provided) clogs to keep their feet dry, though the employer has provided wooden (later so-called) duck-boards to keep their feet out of the water. Though at some point erroneously labelled The Calico Printers, the women are actually not printing but possibly fulling (shrinking) or dyeing the cloth.” — Ian R. Mitchell

Photograph courtesy of the Maryhill Burgh Halls Trust and Glasgow Life/Glasgow Museums. You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.


Gossman, Lionel. “Stephen Adam’s Celebration of Industrial Labor.” Victorian Web.

Last modified 3 June 2016