The Harrison Archives
Part Science.. part
history.. part literature. The fascinating and erudite essays
of Edward S. Harrison were written over a period
of 33 years.
In 1956 the National Association of
Scottish Woollen Manufacturers published a book entitled
"Scottish Woollens" and the Editor Mr E.S. Harrison of
Johnstons of Elgin wrote the following preface:
"When our experiment in journalism, Scottish Woollens, proved a
totally unexpected success and had arrived at its destination, we
thought it might be usefully preserved in a more permanent form. A
file full of leaflets is not convenient and, worse still, is
exceedingly vulnerable to the attacks of borrowers. We therefore
decided to publish the complete set of papers in a book. We
concluded also that no attempt should be made to change the
original leaflets, even those in which we recorded some domestic
aspects of the War. The articles apart from two contributed by
authorities outside our trade were anonymous. We concluded they
should so remain though we were tempted to index all our friends
whose contributions had produced our success. Of our illustrators,
two have died - W. R. Lawson, the originator of our emblem, the
lamb - and Robert Burns, R.S.A. These were the youngest and the
oldest, each in his own very different way a sad loss to Scottish
As to us, the Editor, like all editors, we had to fill in odd
spaces where text and illustrations were needed at the last moment,
but we are most grateful for all the skilled and willing help we
received. A quite unexpected series of compliments came our way.
Our original ambition rose no higher than a possible edition of a
thousand. But it was not many years before we ran up to 6,000 and
nearly all our earlier numbers were reprinted - some several times.
Our subscribers by request included Government Departments,
libraries at the National level, and Universities both at home and
overseas, so we feel much less modest than we did some years ago
and we hope our new volume will be useful."
You will have noted Edward Harrison's reference to the articles
being anonymous: but the cat was well and truly let out of the bag
when James R. Scott-Noble (President of Association) penned the
following Foreword in the same book!
"In his preface, Mr E. S. Harrison of Elgin has given the
reasons why the National Association of Scottish Woollen
Manufacturers has decided to publish in book form the series of
pamphlets issued under the name Scottish Woollens. What Mr Harrison
has not, in his modesty, mentioned is the immense debt which the
Association and the public owe to him personally.
It will probably be evident to the discerning reader that most
of the pamphlets are the work of a single pen. I am sure that the
anonymous friends referred to by Mr Harrison in his preface will
agree that the curtain of anonymity should be raised far enough to
divulge that the pen referred to was in fact HIS! The fact that we
know that for Mr Harrison it was a labour of love must not lessen
our admiration and gratitude to him for undertaking the great
amount of research which went into the production of each pamphlet.
Let this short foreword record our thanks to him."
Then followed a remarkable series of articles spanning a period
of 25 years that encompassed Scottish history, a wealth of industry
knowledge, fascinating domestic details and all delightfully
written in an erudite and chatty fashion (although a little
over-flowery in the early years!) and frequently accompanied by
skilful and evocative illustrations. As a monument to a bygone era
of the Scottish woollen industry they are a unique and charming
commentary. We haven't reproduced them all here - some were a
little too far removed from our core interest - but are convinced
that you'll enjoy the selection.