The Scottish Holland Blind Company are delighted to be
manufacturing Heritage style roller blinds into many
historic houses and National Trust properties across the UK
The Scotch Holland blind has a history dating back as far as the
early part of the 18th Century. The earliest material used for the
purpose of making roller blinds seems to have been Holland linen
cloth, which as the name implies, originally came from, or at least,
was bleached in Holland and hung out to dry in the fields. Picture
if you can, some Dutchman sitting in a theatre in Amsterdam, looking
idly at the linen stage curtains as it rose and fell, when suddenly
the idea of a window blind made from Holland cloth struck him. Little
would he think that his invention would cast its shade over the whole
world, if you excuse the pun!!
Actual records of the manufacturer
of Scotch Holland fabric go back to Glasgow in 1725 to a weaver of
white linen cloth for blinds. James
Louis Robertson. Apparently in 1773 he updated his production of
the cloth by installing two new looms which were powered by a large
Newfoundland dog performing the role of a gin horse within a large
tread wheel. In 1775, a few miles down the road, John King opened
a weaving factory to produce similar cloth. The original wooden roller
blind had no spring and was developed from the old ‘bookfold’ system,
where the cloth lay in folds like a concertina on the window sill
and was raised to cover the window by a cord dropping back. This
system prevailed for several years until someone invented a roller
with a flange end, but this still had to be secured to a cleat. It
is not known exactly when the modern day spring was invented, except
that it was well into the 19th century. It is known, however, that
it was very slow to become popular as people did not trust the new
The earliest manufacturer of Scottish Holland material
still chose to use the authentic heavy-duty Dutch Linen, which was
dyed and heavily starched. Whilst still wet the cloth was layered
between sheets of brown paper and then wound around great dying cylinders
above which were suspended heavily beating bars of solid wood. These
bars measure 4 – 5 inches square and were 12 feet long. The
beaters were rounded at the end to strike the cloth without damage
and were commonly known by the workers as ‘beetles’.
The ‘beetles’ gantry consisted of a row of 30 – 40
of the wooden bars and an enormous power driven camshaft revolving
alongside. Each ‘beetle’ had a lug which caught on the
cam and was thus lifted some 12 – 18 inches, after which it
slipped off and was allowed to free fall onto the rotating cloth
on the large cylinder beneath. This process was repetitive and the ‘beetles’ would
be raised and dropped in quick succession, continuing for three to
four days. The beating process made the fibres of the cloth spread
and gave a polished look to the surface of the fabric – the
interleaved brown paper successfully polishing the underside layers.
After a few days the fabric was unwound, rewetted and reversed mounted
onto the dying drums to be given another 3 – 4 days pounding.
this way the unique ‘Scottish Holland’ fabric was
achieved, a cloth that is renowned for its finish and durability.
The whole process took approximately ten days and the widest fabric
produced was 112 inches. The name ‘Scottish Holland’ was
coined because like Scotch Whisky, pure Scottish spring water was
required to impart that unique property to the cloth and although
many attempts were made to reproduce it in other parts of the world – just
like Whisky – it proved impossible.
To Complete a ‘Scotch Holland’ roller
blind, the famous fabric was cut to size and secured with small tacks
to a one piece
round wooden batten. The bottom of the blind had a pocket in the
fabric to take a wooden bottom bar and all the side hems were hand
sewn using a herringbone stitch to prevent fraying. Glace cords were
used to perate the blind. Brass pins were inserted effectively made
the look of the fixing brackets.
The development of alternatives for
the mass market and the high cost of production by traditional methods
led to the ‘beetling’ finish
being replaced in 1975 by passing the material through heavy steel
rollers under pressure to give the glazed finish.
We are the only
blind supplier in the UK able to do this process.