As early as the beginning of the seventeenth century, the people of the south west of Scotland had earned a reputation as weavers. Wool from Lowland and Border sheep was plentiful and close at hand and the climate had the correct mixture of humidity and moisture for the spinning and weaving of wool. By the mid 18th century there was a blossoming cottage industry in Ayrshire manufacturing carpets. In Kilmarnock alone at least 200 carpet looms were working by the end of the century.
The weavers still worked on hand looms however until the
regions mill owners embraced the industrial revolution in the early
years of the 19th century. The Ayrshire weavers soon adjusted to
new power looms that were introduced and the increased production
meant that the town of Kilmarnock quickly became known throughout
Europe as a centre of quality carpet
Pile-less cloth rugs known as 'Scotch' carpets were produced early on and sold largely to Holland, once a centre of tapestry manufacture which these 'carpets' often resembled, but the Kilmarnock factories soon began producing pile carpets of the very finest quality. One firm began to stand out and by the beginning of the 20th century; Robert Blackwood and Sons had no competition. They became Blackwood, Morton and Sons Ltd., and were to be known locally as BMK. From around 1920 onwards they steadily grew in reputation as a factory which produced excellent, reasonably priced goods with intricate designs which were fitted around the world and even on the RMS Titanic! Unfortunately the industrial decline in the area of the late 20th, early 21st centuries and the modern trend of laminate flooring has meant that BMK ceased carpet manufacture in early 2005, ending a proud legacy of carpet manufacture in the area.
"Or, nae reflection on your lear,
Ye may commence a shaver;
Or to the Netherton repair,
An' turn a carpet weaver,
Aff-hand this day."
(The Ordination - Robert Burns)