Wool samples, Spring 1938
These samples of wool were produced by Wilson Bros (Alva) Ltd for the Spring season. They're a timely reminder that Scottish springs can be more like winter than summer.
Originally, the Wilson family were soap, candle and wax manufacturers in Glasgow. Two of the brothers, William Primrose and James Wilson decided to turn their attention instead to textile manufacture, choosing to set up their looms in the Hillfoots, Clackmannanshire. It was an area that, because of its ideal topography, contained many spinning and weaving mills. William already had experience in textiles; under the partnership of Wilson and Anderson, he had manufactured shawls in the Boll Mill in Clackmannanshire from 1866 until 1872.
Wilson Bros (initially W & J Wilson) was founded in Alva in 1874 at Dalmore works. Instead of producing shawls, the company manufactured tweeds for men's wear. Wilsons also took a leading part in founding the trade of ladies tailor-made clothing and specialised in Ladies' Woollen Novelty fabrics. By the 1900s, Wilson Bros were also manufacturing rugs in mohair and wool and Wil-Bro-Cel blankets. In 1907 they took over the patterns and yarns of Bannockburn Tweeds. Wilson Bros became a limited company in 1930, and in 1955 its assets were transferred to Wilson Bros (Alva) Ltd.
Dalmore, the original mill, was added to in 1888 and partly rebuilt in 1895 after a hurricane had blown over the main building. There were further additions in 1912 and 1916, and a partial rebuilding after fire destroyed almost ninety percent of the factory in 1941. Extensions were also added in 1950 and 1955. But a venture with a Glasgow based scarf making firm resulted in the loss of Dalmore Works in 1964. Wilsons had to manufacture out of various rented mills; a huge financial drain.
In 1967 Wilson Bros (Alva) Ltd stopped trading when they were taken over by Pringles of Inverness.
The Archive holds the company's miscellaneous partnership, company, property and insurance records, minutes of director meetings and shareholding records. The collection also includes various financial records, orders, stock and pattern books as well as photographs.
Ref: MS 82WB