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Remembered Today:

Mystery kilt-maker


Steven Broomfield
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Mrs Broomfield, who works for Southampton University, first alerted me to this story, which has now made the local BBC site

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-28466800

Fascinating. Mrs Broomfield was, of course, fortunate enough actually to marry a London Jock. We're pretty damned desirable, you know. :wub:

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and a hodden grey, not the usual tartan affair!

I'll swear my one in the P&D band was so heavy there probably was chain mail sewn in!

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The valuation rolls for 1915 and 1920 surface a certain Thomas K Govan as a tenant of 49 Ardgowan Street. Father? Brother?

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Am I the only one wondering why they decided to take a perfectly mint item, and deliberately remove one of the elements that had helped preserve it in such condition for nearly 100 years...? :angry2:

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According to the report on South Today last night the message was revealed when the stitching holding down the pleating had come undone. I don't recall the report never mentioning the company that made the kilt only the address shown on the note. My immediate thought that the message was left as one does when putting a "message in bottle".

When they then asked for help in finding more about the person who wrote the note I was surprised that they had not already asked their Scottish counterparts for assistance as I would have thought that anyone with a modicum of family history research of Scottish ancestors would be able to assist and being journalists they would be bound to know someone who does.

regards

Indefatigable

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Can't find her on a quick search of 1911 census, but a possible candidate might be:

Name: Helen Govan Age: 2 Estimated birth year: abt 1899 Relationship: Daur (Daughter) Father's Name: William Govan Mother's name: Jane Govan Gender: Female Where born: Glasgow, Lanarkshire Registration Number: 644/14 Registration district: Kinning Park Burgh Civil Parish: Glasgow Govan County: Lanarkshire Address: 212 Scotland St

Would be the right sort of age during WW1?

Regards

Ian

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She seems also to be on an Ancestry public family tree for Bryce/Wallace/Vallance/Morison Tree Owner: Letta Docherty

No direct descendents listed but it look like one of her sisters has descendents still living, under the family name Vallance.

I've sent Letta a link...

Kind regards

Ian

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Can't find her on a quick search of 1911 census, but a possible candidate might be:

Name: Helen Govan Age: 2 Estimated birth year: abt 1899 Relationship: Daur (Daughter) Father's Name: William Govan Mother's name: Jane Govan Gender: Female Where born: Glasgow, Lanarkshire Registration Number: 644/14 Registration district: Kinning Park Burgh Civil Parish: Glasgow Govan County: Lanarkshire Address: 212 Scotland St

Would be the right sort of age during WW1?

Regards

Ian

Hi Ian

Don't you mean the 1901 census? It would make her about 15 in 1914. She could have been working in a clothing manufacturers younger than that. She had six siblings in 1901 - only one of whose lines is followed in the online family tree.

(Come to think of it she could have been working in a clothing manufacturers at 15 when I was 15! I wonder what she did? At 14/15 she might have been a bit young to stitch kilt pleats, but she could have been doing the packing stitches.)

Roger.

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According to the report on South Today last night the message was revealed when the stitching holding down the pleating had come undone.

The original article linked in says: "Dr Helen Paul discovered the hand-written message when she was removing the packing stitches from the kilt, which has been passed down her family".

When a military issue kit is received by the military from a maker, it has a number of rows of loose stitching tacking all the pleats at the back together, to preserve them in top shape until such time as the kilt is actually issued to someone. It is at this point that they would be then removed prior to being worn. An example of these on a more modern kilt can be seen below:

http://www.warstuff.com/Mint-Black-Watch-Military-Kilt-i1514525.htm

The person who wrote the original message would have known this, and hid the message in one of the pleats as it was being tacked together, so that it would have been hidden from view until the first soldier intended to wear it opened it up again. This obviously never happened, hence the message has only just been revealed.

Whilst I am interested to see the message, I am personally not happy to see it took the removal of these original stitches that had been put in place nearly 100 years before (and must have made it practically unique in collectors or historical terms) for no given good reason to reveal it.

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Andrew

I understand what you have stated however my comment was based on what I believe was actually said on the piece broadcast on the television by Dr Helen Paul not what was written on the website. I found her comment a bit strange at the time because I could not see how the stitching could have come undone lying in a drawer which is where she said the kilt had been. It is quite conceivable that I am incorrect it my original comment.

Did you see the actual broadcast and therefore can correct me?

regards

Indefatigable

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Did you see the actual broadcast and therefore can correct me?

I did not, but to me the latter sounds like the former with some positive spin put on it...

I suspect, but cannot prove, that for some display reason they wanted to make the kilt look correct for a "newly issued" item, and therefore deliberately removed the one element that visually showed it had actually been unissued to that point. If that is the case I do not understand why they did not acquire an already used example, since original London Scottish kilts in good condition are hardly rare or unique.

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Andrew

I suspect we shall never know. As you have said it appears that someone has turned a mundane story(if I can call it that) into something more than it is, probably because of the anniversary this year.

regards

Indefatigable

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and a hodden grey, not the usual tartan affair!

I believe Hodden Grey is a tartan, actually. I agree, though, not the usual patterned thing.

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Hi Ian

Don't you mean the 1901 census? It would make her about 15 in 1914. She could have been working in a clothing manufacturers younger than that. She had six siblings in 1901 - only one of whose lines is followed in the online family tree.

(Come to think of it she could have been working in a clothing manufacturers at 15 when I was 15! I wonder what she did? At 14/15 she might have been a bit young to stitch kilt pleats, but she could have been doing the packing stitches.)

Roger.

Yes, I meant can't find her in 1911 but did in 1901. She'd be 18/19 by wars end.

Also searched for marriage records but couldn't find anything.

Regards

Ian

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  • 3 weeks later...

She seems also to be on an Ancestry public family tree for Bryce/Wallace/Vallance/Morison Tree Owner: Letta Docherty

No direct descendents listed but it look like one of her sisters has descendents still living, under the family name Vallance.

I've sent Letta a link...

Kind regards

Ian

Had a reply...

"Yes I was shown this already, My problem is I have no way of working out if it is her or not as I cannot find any more about her Parents. They seem to have disappeared from the planet!! I thought I could look up the 1911 census but I got two other people called Helen Govan. There seems to be lots of people called that name so it is going to take me some time. Thanks for pointing out the above message, it was good of you to take the trouble."

Regards

Ian

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The original article linked in says: "Dr Helen Paul discovered the hand-written message when she was removing the packing stitches from the kilt, which has been passed down her family".

When a military issue kit is received by the military from a maker, it has a number of rows of loose stitching tacking all the pleats at the back together, to preserve them in top shape until such time as the kilt is actually issued to someone. It is at this point that they would be then removed prior to being worn. An example of these on a more modern kilt can be seen below:

http://www.warstuff.com/Mint-Black-Watch-Military-Kilt-i1514525.htm

Not just military kilts - every adult kilt I've had from new has had such tacking stitches.

I think they're also an important part of the actual 'construction' process, not merely added for packing purposes. They make it much easier to manipulate the kilt during sewing. Without them, the kiltmaker has 9 yards of tartan to wrestle with LOL!

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  • 11 months later...

just reading this interesting thread and posts, it reminded me of when I was in the royal navy in mid sixties, I remember getting a letter from home with a simular little message rolled up and inserted into the back corner of the envelope , it was from a jenny wren who must have sorted the mail somewhere.

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I believe Hodden Grey is a tartan, actually. I agree, though, not the usual patterned thing.

I think you are right, Mr B. Tartan refers to the material, not the pattern, which I believe is called the sett. There are references in the Clothing Regulations to "trousers, tartan or serge".

Ron

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