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A FLOURISHING NAAS INDUSTRY

Kildare Observer 18 April 1914

A FLOURISHING NAAS INDUSTRY

The Kildare Carpet Company Limited. It’s Completeness And Progressiveness

(special to the “Kildare Observer”)

Kildare is a county which, like perhaps twenty-eight of the other thirty-one counties that go to make up our country of “questions” and disputes, is popularly regarded as industryless, or practically so, if we leave out of consideration agriculture and its kindred pursuits. It is quite true that most - nearly all - of the textile industries with which the county was dotted over half a century or a century ago have disappeared, leaving us a legacy of gaunt, unoccupied buildings - “the mills lying idle by the wayside” of which the novelist, Thackeray, wrote in his Irish sketch book - and other evidences of an industrial activity which was, but has ceased to be. Within the past few years the lethargy and indifference, the fatalism and the let – somebody – else – do - it attitude which has characterised our people in the past are in progress of abolition and a keener and saner interest in affairs generally is being substituted. When the Irish public begins to realise that regeneration - social and industrial - must be effected from within, and that nothing will over come of looking longingly and expectantly to foreign sympathy to bring about our uplifting the regeneration will have already set in and the ascent will have begun. To the general spread of this feeling we look forward as the sunset indication of a national awakening-a manifestation of a high and a real patriotism.
In the absence of anything like a general industrial activity it is well that we should devote our attentions to the industries that are carried in our midst, few, unfortunately, as they are in number, and, save in a few cases, comparatively unimportant in their present undeveloped condition. In Co. Kildare one of the most important of existing industries - in fact, the most important - is the carpet factory at Naas which, after many vicissitudes and troubles incidental to a new industry, has now established on a firm businesslike and progressive basis. Its importance and potentialities are not recognised as they ought to be even in Naas, but few are acquainted with its operations save in a general way. How many, for instance, realise that the Naas factory is one of the few self - contained industries in the country, where the material is received from the spinners in a raw state and leaves the factory a beautifully and artistically produced carpet to grace the drawing room of a leader society or the stateroom of a mammoth ocean liner? Yet this is in fact a perfectly true description of what occurs in Naas, as we have seen ourselves.
During the week the “Observer” representative visited the Co. Kildare Carpet Co.’s extensive premises at Naas where he met the chairman of the Company, Mr.
S. J. Brown, M.A., J.P.; the managing director, Mr. R. M. Martin, and the manager, Mr. A. B. Anderson, and was conducted over the buildings, which comprise all the departments of a fully and expensively factory of the most modern and up-to-date type. Indeed, in many aspects the factory is quite unique. To begin with, it is the only one of its kind in Ireland in which the raw material passes through all the process in the evolution of a carpet until it is placed on sale or consigned to the customer to whose order it has been made. Again, the factory is unique in being the one in the world in which a carpet 42ft. wide can be made in one piece. Two large cylinders or “booms” as they are technically know 42ft.long, and each weighing 4 tons, render the making of this enormous one-piece carpet possible. It is interesting to note as an aside that the work of carrying the two “booms” referred to, with their tremendous weight and unwieldiness, into the factory and fixing them into their positions was preformed by local labour - no mean tribute to the ingenuity of Naas craftsmanship.
It will doubtless he of interest to our readers to learn the various processes through which the yarn passes in the local factory before being transformed, in the finished state, into the luxuries which Kildare carpets admittedly are. First of all the Yarn goes into the hands of the dyers out of the stores, as carpets of various colours - sometimes of innumerable colours and shades in the one carpet - are required to the order and design of a particular customer. The elaborate and expensive dyeing plant installed here quite recently obviates the necessity of sending the yarn to England as would otherwise have to be done for colouring - a costly and delay - causing procedure. An expert dyer and three assistants, drawn from the local labour supply, are in charge of the dyeing department. Here we find the company has provided three 850 gallon vats and six 950 gallon vats in which the raw material is treated according to formula requirements. Having been coloured to the desired shade the yarn is placed in a splendid hydro - extractor in the same department, after which it passes into the drying-room where a high temperature is maintained day and night by steam pipes with radiators fed from a massive boiler. The yarn placed in this compartment overnight is ready for use in the winding-room on the following morning. In the winding room by means of ingenious contrivances it is wound on bobbins with a degree of dexterity on the part of the winding girls, pleasing to watch. The bobbins are then conveyed as required to the weaving rooms where rows of weavers – girls - sit at the looms with designs - prepared on the premises by the company’s designing staff of four young ladies under the direction and supervision of Mr. Wilde, the chief designer-before them. Here again one is fascinated by the dexterity displayed by the weavers - all local hands and locally trained - who do their work interestedly and cheerfully to judge by the way in which they chant snatches of musical - hall ditties as they weave. An undeniable proof of the excellence of the products placed on the market by the company is the fact that within the past year a substantial addition was found necessary in the weaving department, and a commodious extra weaving room has been built-entirely by local labour. The texture of the carpets having been completed in the weaving rooms they are passed on to the shearing-room, where an expensive modern shearing apparatus with ingenious cylindrical knives has been installed. Here the carpets are dealt with process their jagged appearance gives place to an admirably smooth even surface, after which they are taken to the finishing-room, into which has been converted the floor of the old mill until recently used by Naas Urban Council as a forage store. Finally treated here by the finishers they are passed into the hands of the packers from whom they go to the purchasers all over the world.
The products of the Kildare Carpet Company, Ltd, have achieved a world-wide reputation, and there is scarcely a quarter of the civilised globe to which they have not been sent for use. When our representative visited the factory he was shown three superb large carpets executed to the order of purchasers in New York and one of Chinese design for use in the southern states. One fine carpet of Chinese design was seen on the looms at the time to the order of a resident in Montreal, Canada, and the destination of another Japanese design in process of manufacture is Chicago. It is of melancholy interest to note that some of the carpets in use on the Titanic when it foundered on its maiden voyage were produced in Naas Carpet Factory. The Company has even benefited to a degree by the “futurist” craze, four “futurist” carpets having been finished and despatched to London last week, while at the time of the “Observer” man’s visit one of similar design-a splash, or rather a series of splashes, of vivid and lurid colours-was on the looms in course of manufacture. Last week a special carpet made in this factory was dispatched for display in the British Arts and Crafts section of the French Exhibition. An order recently carried out was a large carpet of special mohair which was sold at 85s. per yard. We would counsel all those requiring products of neat design and faultless execution to pay a visit to the Kildare Carpet Factory.
The Company’s premises are lighted throughout by electricity, and the comfort of the workers is ensured by a series of special heating plants. One of the engines provides the necessary driving power for the shearing machine and the dynamos, while also pumping the water for use in the vats and boilers. Some 80 hands in all are employed at the factory and 15 in Abbyleix, where the company has an auxiliary weaving department. In Naas alone the wages bill of the operatives amounts to about £30 a week. This amount is paid to weavers alone and does not include pay lists of other departments-assuredly an appreciable consideration in a town like this. The demand for operatives exceeds the local supply, and the company would be prepared to take on some 20 or 30 girls as an addition to the existing staff.
On the whole the Kildare Carpet Factory is a revelation in completeness, and since that it has survived the ills and obstacles which are concomitant to the infancy of such a concern we have no doubt it will enjoy a prosperous and progressive future.

 

 


A special report on the Kildare Carpet Company factory in Naas from the Kildare Observer of 18 April 1914. Typed by John O'Byrne


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