The Singer Manufacturing Company

The SINGER MANUFACTURING COMPANY, Kilbowie Works, by Clydebank, near Glasgow.

    Of all the numerous efforts which, since the dawn of civilisation, have been made to minimise the labour involved in the task of sewing by means of needle and thread, nothing can for a moment compare, either in the magnitude of its aggregate operations or in the beneficial character of its results, with that marvellous production of patient genius which we designate the sewing machine. The invention is a masterpiece of industrial labour, a marvel of conception, and, as an instrument of domestic economy amid the vast series of items which arrange themselves as “requirements of the household”, it is absolutely unrivalled in value. Although the sewing machine of modern times finds many makers, each claiming some specific excellence and superiority over other houses, there can be no two opinions in the public mind as to the one great firm of sewing machine makers before which all others are dwarfed into comparative insignificance. Such an enormous popularity has been won for the productions of “The Singer Manufacturing Company”, and such gigantic strides have been made in the great world of commerce, that the very trading designation of the firm has long been “Familiar in our mouths as household words”.

    The “Singer” machine is of American origin, and in this particular it is on common ground with by far the largest proportion of labour-saving mechanical appliances of the age. Glaswegians, however, are specially interested in the industrial prosperity of the concern, from the fact that the European manufactory is located within comparatively close proximity of the “second City of the Empire” and within easy access of the mighty Clyde, upon whose bosom is borne a goodly proportion of Scotia’s wealth. The works at Kilbowie cover an area of 46 acres and possess a total floorage area of 951,207 square feet. The magnificent series of buildings is surmounted by a no less magnificent clock tower, which serves as a landmark well calculated to impress the millions of river-borne travellers with a due sense of the vastness of the mechanical operations conducted under its shadow. No fewer than six thousand hands are here employed, and the enormous volume of the work accomplished may be gauged from the fact that an average output of about eight thousand sewing machines per week is effected. The building of the Kilbowie works was commenced in 1882, and in 1884 they were completed and entered upon. It would be impossible, within the necessarily restricted limits of an industrial review, to convey anything like an adequate description of the structural character of the vast establishment : suffice it to say there is nothing extant that could be considered typical, the whole being unique in the annals of industrial architecture, and rather bearing a resemblance to the mammoth structures which serve to house international exhibitions than suggesting the scene of a single industrial enterprise. All the manifold operations essential to the production of the well-recognised “Singer” machines are here carried on under conditions the most favourable that vast wealth and unlimited resource could supply. The iron is worked from the “pig” state ; the wood which forms the table and cover of the machine is imported direct from the Company’s mills in Indiana, U.S.A., and worked up to its exquisite condition of finish by a large staff of deft cabinet makers, individually selected for their thorough .proficiency in their particular department of trade. Nothing is omitted that could expedite manufacturing operations. Even the consumption of gas is provided for without reference to the public source of supply; while, to effect the ready and expeditious transit of raw material and manufactured articles, the railway system intersects the works in many directions.

    The Singer Manufacturing Company do not, however, confine their attention exclusively to the manufacture of their world-renowned sewing machines; by arrangement with the Babcock and Wilcox Company of New York, they hold the sole right to construct in this country their famous tubular boilers, which by many users of steam power throughout the United Kingdom are held to supersede the older types of boilers.

    Reverting to the subject of the Company’s sewing machines, we must not omit to notice an important specialty, a veritable triumph of mechanical ingenuity known as the “Oscillating Shuttle”. The principle of this mechanism is almost perfect : there is but one simple conversion of motion—rotating to oscillating — no differential motion or variable speed ; and, not unreasonably, The Singer Manufacturing Company claim for this mechanism a supremacy over all others in respect of ease, speed, capacity, and durability.

    Among the more notable examples of useful domestic and manufacturers’ machines, for which the Company are celebrated, may be mentioned the “ Improved Family,” the “Improved Manufacturing”, the “Automatic Chain Stitch Machine”, the “Flying Dutchman”, the “Jacquard Pattern Stitching Machine”, the “Improved Carpet Machine”, and the “Overseaming Machine” ; the latter specially adapted for all varieties of work requiring a zig-zag stitch, or over-edge seaming. The Singer Manufacturing Company, in addition to their enormous works at Kilbowie, possess other factories at Elizabeth Port, New Jersey, U.S.A. ; Cairo, Illinois, U.S.A. ; South Bend, Indiana, U.S.A. ; Montreal, Canada ; and Vienna, Austria.

    The sales in Great Britain and Ireland amount to 150,000 machines per year, while the total sales of the Company throughout the world reach the enormous total of 750,000 machines annually. The Singer Manufacturing Company, it is quite needless to say, have customers in all parts of the world, and daily receive orders from quite an army of agents and representatives in many distant lands, where the excellence of their machines and the honourable and liberal nature of their dealings are remembered with satisfaction by an innumerable body of patrons. The two hundred medals awarded at all the leading exhibitions of the world, though in themselves magnificent trophies and incontrovertible testimonies to the pre-eminence of the Company in their special department of industry, are of incomparably less significance than the universal plaudits of a grateful cosmopolitan public, whose daily task, either in the home, the factory, or the workshop, has been rendered light and agreeable mainly by reason of the inventive genius which finds its embodiment in the invaluable products of The Singer Manufacturing Company. The organisation of the mighty enterprise is practically perfect, and its past record and present prosperity constitute a splendid tribute to the energy and industry of its founder, and to the spirit of enterprise and activity which prevails in the councils of those who are now charged with the administration of its affairs and the preservation of its valuable interests and supremely eminent commercial repute.

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