Water & Fire Damaged Yarns

I recently posted about the Dye Works Fire in 1859 which burned down the yarn ‘drying out’ factory at the Madder Mill, Blantyre Works on the Clyde. In September that year there was a subsequent, extensive sale of the damage cotton yarn, as shown here in this advert. P Burn & Co were instructed to sell the damaged yard Mule & Water Twist used in the turkey red process. This got me thinking of something a few years back…..

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Andy Bain shared these bizarre photos with me back in October 2015. Andy says, “Having taken a walk down by the Clyde on the Blantyre side at the popular fishing area, I was taking photos of the old building at the waters edge & when I turned round and noticed this sticking out of the water. I retrieved it to have a closer look but I’m still puzzled. I thought it was rock formation at first, but as it dries out it’s getting lighter in weight, any ideas??”

I have to say, it initially looks old and organic, the cold water or river bed perhaps preserving it to some extent. Not a horse skull, nor appears to be any sort of beast I know. The fact that it got lighter drying out, also suggests that what we’re seeing is prone to deterioration. However, I’m not convinced it is any animal. Perhaps the farmers amongst us can confirm? I have no idea of scale but having now learned that the factory burned down on 3 occasions at the location where this was found, I suspect it is the fire or water damaged reels of yarn. It’s certainly a very unusual object!

It would be interesting to get this dated as looking at its condition, i’d say it was almost at the point of being fossilised and hardened. Does the Clyde have mutant fish? I’m not so sure, but this was indeed a most strange find. Thoughts?

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  1. Hi Paul, Whilst researching cotton yarn dressing for my family history in Blantyre mills, i came across an American patent for 1839 claiming that the optimum treatment or dressing was a combination of starch and glue! I suppose this would be flammable together with the cotton itself , and might result in the strange objects pictured if they were cooled quickly by river water.
    Perhaps the New Lanark team might be able to shed light on this, or Glasgow Uni Archive or History dept.could be interested?

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