Workers leaving the Singer Sewing Machine Factory at Kilbowie, c 1900.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
This photograph shows workers leaving the 'The World's Greatest Sewing Machine Factory' at Kilbowie, near Glasgow in Scotland. Isaac Merritt Singer (1811-1875) designed the first practical lock-stitch sewing machine in Boston, Masachusetts, United States in 1850. In 1853 he founded the Singer Manufacturing Company and sold his first sewing machine for 100 dollars. In the 1860s Singer began to manufacture sewing machines abroad, setting up his first Scottish factory in Glasgow in 1870, followed by the Kilbowie facility in 1883. By the early 1900s, the Singer company was producing 40 different models with sales of over one million worldwide and had totally revolutionised the textiles industry.