Fàilte! (Welcome!)

Fàilte! (Welcome!)
This blog is the result of my ongoing research into the people, places and events that have shaped the Western Isles of Scotland and, in particular, the 'Siamese-twins' of Harris and Lewis.
My interest stems from the fact that my Grandfather was a Stornowegian and, until about four years ago, that was the sum total of my knowledge, both of him and of the land of his birth.
I cannot guarantee the accuracy of everything that I have written (not least because parts are, perhaps, pioneering) but I have done my best to check for any errors.
My family mainly lived along the shore of the Sound of Harris, from An-t-Ob and Srannda to Roghadal, but one family 'moved' to Direcleit in the Baighs...

©Copyright 2011 Peter Kerr All rights reserved

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Tapestry Weavers

I was doing some highly focussed (OK, slightly random!) searching and came across four young ladies from Harris who in 1901 were employed as Tapestry Weavers.
What made this surprising was that the young ladies, aged from 15 to 25, were all credited with having been born in Obbe, Scotland but at the time of the census were boarders in the house of a 40 year-old Metropolitan Police Constable in Bushey, Hertfordshire.
Quite how this quartet came to be living at 39 Park Road, Bushey, situated a mile each way between Watford and Greater London, and precisely where they were employed remains unknown but this is the first time that I have seen such a group and hence I thought it worth a brief mention.

Ah, but what is this I see? Three more from Obbe but this time at 34 Silvester Terrace in Bushey, the Head of Number 32 being a local man, George Corney who was a Master Baker.
The two houses are home to George, his Wife and their Niece together with a Domestic Servant and no less than six Tapestry Weavers, four Carpet Weavers and two more who appear as Mixed Weavers.
Of this dozen, two are Blind and one is Deaf & Dumb.
Three of the Tapestry Weavers are 17 & 18 year-old young ladies from 'Obbe, Harris, North Britain'.

So a total of seven female Tapestry Weavers from Harris, all specifying their birthplace as 'Obbe', were possibly working together but for whom and where is uncertain for, unhelpfully, the Baker lists the ladies relationship to him not as 'Boarder' or 'Lodger' but as 'Weaver'.
I suspect that George was the landlord for the ladies at number 34, for it is clearly a separate household but the first person on the list is not shown as the Head of the Household which is the expected practice.

All rather confusing, but a tale worth the telling, nevertheless!


  1. Hi, I don't know how or why the ladies you refer to made it to Bushey, but I believe they were working with the weaver Luther Hooper. In no. 2 in this post on my blog I'm referring to some sources where he talks about his move there. Not much info, but I thought you might be interested! (although I see that this is an old post) https://peasant-arts.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/luther-hooper-peasant-relationship.html I'm going to refer to your post about the Harris weavers which is an interesting aside to my research.

  2. Hi Kate, I think it was thanks to the work of Mrs 'Captain'Thomas, ie Fanny Thomas, who was instrumental in the marketing of Harris Tweed and other textile industries based in Harris in the second-half of the 19thC. All the best, Peter.