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THE manufacture of lace curtains was commenced by the firm of Messrs. T. I. BIRKIN & CO. in the year 1869, and this firm was the first in the world to employ steam power in the manufacture of laces.
"The present (1924) proprietor of the business is Sir T. Stanley Birkin, Bart.
The headquarters of the firm are situated at New Basford, Nottingham, and, at its inauguration in 1869, the works at New Basford were then equipped with a plant of 42 lace curtain machines, all of which, with the necessary accessory machinery, were constructed under the personal supervision of the head of the firm by his own mechanics at New Basford.
The business was carried on with great success until 1881, when it was decided to remove the whole of the lace curtain manufacturing plant to Glasgow, where the Baltic Street property, in every respect a most suitable one, happened to be in the market.
The works in Baltic Street consist of a considerable block of buildings, surrounded by streets on every side, and occupying an area of two acres of ground. The main building is of four storeys, and is admirably adapted for the manufacture of lace curtains.
As one enters the works, after passing the main staircase, one cannot help noticing the huge stacks of cotton yarn done up in bundles of 10 lb. each, which are piled on the ground floor at one side of the building. Some idea of the amount of cotton yarn used by the firm may be gathered by the fact that it is no uncommon thing during the busy season for 24,000 lb. weight of yarn to be worked up in a week. The machine shed is 276ft. in length, and contains over 70,000 square feet of floor space, in which the whole of the running machinery is situated. In these buildings there are upwards of 60 lace curtain machines, including many of the largest and most comprehensive machines in existence. Some idea may be gleaned of the enormous capacity of these works when it is stated that the productive output of the Glasgow establishment amounts to 12,000 pairs of lace curtains weekly."