This film is part of Free

The Different Processes of Manufacturing Carpets at William C. G Ray & Sons' Factory, Ayr, Scotland

Spinning a yarn: an eye-opening tour behind the scenes at a top carpet manufacturer

Non-Fiction 1920 14 mins Silent


As it unfolds, this film becomes a fine, fascinating exercise in the weft and warp of both carpet-making and industrial filmmaking. Gray's was one of Scotland's and Britain's leading carpet makers. This sponsored film leaves us an instructive, atmospheric record of a now-vanished world: part-manual, part-mechanised, poised between cottage craftsmanship and mass production.

Wide workroom vistas alternate with intricate close-ups of incessantly spinning yarn, piles of jute and cotton, steaming vats of dye, and armies of women and men attending trestle tables and electric generators (workrooms are rigidly divided by gender). The 'process' film, one of the earliest forms of documentary, was by 1920 a highly practiced art. Although a common convention of the genre is the finished product in the hands of the consumer, in this case the film ends on an old-fashioned (for 1920) 'factory gate' scene, suggesting it was distributed locally, intended not least as a staff morale-booster. The company closed in 1974.