790 views ~ A functional carpet mill stood behind the spectacular facade of the Templeton carpet factory. James Templeton from Paisley patented a chenille Axminster process by which he could manufacture more densely patterned and richly coloured carpets. He went on to become one of the most successful carpet manufacturers in Britain, producing carpets for state occasions, great houses, luxury liners including the ‘Titanic’, as well as domestic use.
The City turned down two designs for a major extension to his factory for this sensitive site on Glasgow Green before Templeton commissioned a leading Scottish architect, William Leiper (1839-1916), to tackle the project. His design is directly inspired by the late medieval Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) in Venice but Leiper would also have been aware of the colourful phantasmagoria of designs being used for the pavilions in Glasgow’s 1888 International Exhibition showground in the west end. The flamboyant glazed brick, vitreous enamel tiles, red brick and terracotta of the facade evokes the rich Oriental-influenced patterns of the carpets the factory produced.
1889 saw the completion of the Templeton Carpet Factory. The building was extended in the 1930s and in 1984 became the Templeton Business Centre. After repeated design proposals had been rejected by the city council, James Templeton & Co. employed the architect William Leiper, who designed a facade inspired by the Doge’s Palace in Venice. On 1 November 1889, the factory facade collapsed due to insecure fixings and 29 women were killed in adjacent weaving sheds. The story is carved in a section of stone beneath the base of Templeton Gate, installed during refurbishment work to the area in 2005. A fire in the factory in 1900 resulted in more deaths. The building was extended in the 1930s and in 1984 became the Templeton Business Centre. In 2005, the 1930s extension was demolished to make way for 143 new flats, part of a £22 million regeneration project which saw the owners, Scottish Enterprise, sell the Templeton Carpet Factory for £6.7 million.