A STUDENT is hoping former ‘mill girls’ can help him shed new light on the area’s industrial past, writes Gregg Kelly

Rory Stride is undertaking a PHD in Scottish Oral History as part of his course at the University of Strathclyde and is keen to speak with women who worked in local mills.

He is particularly eager to hear from those who have experience of the textile industry through their work at Coats Viyella mills in Paisley and the Crofthead Mill, in Neilston, as well as anyone who worked at Stoddard Carpets, in Elderslie.

Rory said: “The textile industry has such a vibrant history and was a huge part of the local economy.

“When you think that almost 70 per cent of the people employed in the industry were women, it adds another layer to the unique history of the area.

“The thousands of people who worked in the industry locally were mainly working-class women, all bringing in wages during a time when the workforce was dominated by men.

“Economic issues began to strike the area and, unfortunately, the owners began to look at ways of saving money. Outsourcing saved money but hurt local communities.”

Rory is also fascinated by the history of Stoddard Carpets, with goods manufactured at the Elderslie factory being used to deck the corridors of Westminster, The White House and the Titanic.

The Elderslie firm became world renowned for its quality and unique styles and, in the 1950s, Stoddard was one of Scotland’s biggest employers.

Rory added: “It’s such an important part of the area’s history and there are so many stories yet to be told.

“I grew up in the area, so the significance of the factories such as Stoddard Carpets always kind of loomed.

“You can go into any nearby pub and there will still be someone with stories of working in these factories.

“Those are the stories I’m trying to tell – of the working-class hero who helped shape the area.”

If you worked in the textile industry between 1970 and 2000 and would like to share your memories with Rory, send an email to Rory.Stride@strath.ac.uk or call 0744 638 1479.

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