Scotland’s last surviving linen factory closes its Kirkcaldy premises

Scotland’s only surviving linen factory is closing down.

Thursday, 29th April 2021, 2:06 pm

Based in Kirkcaldy since 1825, Peter Greig & Co will close its doors for the last time on Friday.

Around 20 people worked at the factory on St Clair Street.

A family owned firm, it was once one of 15 mills in Kirkcaldy alone.

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Peter Greig and Co Victorian Linen Works in St Clair Street. (Pic: George McLuskie)

Fife’s industrial heritage was built on coal and textiles – at their peak in the 19th century, the mills employed around 10,000 people.

It is understood that the company had been in contact with Fife Council’s economic/employability team over the past year.

On Monday, a number of lorries were seen removing heavy equipment from the factory.

Scottish Linen, the retail side of the business confirmed in a Facebook post that it was closing on April 30.

Lorries arrived at Peter Greig linen factory on Monday to remove machinery (Pic: John Murray)

It is understood to be finishing its final orders - said to be around 400 after a big response to the closure announcement.

Its latest Facebook update said: “We did not quite anticipate the level of response we have had, and as we are stretched pretty thin, it may be a while before you receive a response from us or your order.

"If you have been refunded, we are out of stock of the fabric or product. We wish we could find other alternatives for you, but time and manpower won’t allow.”

The closure marks the end of the linen mills in Kirkcaldy.

Peter Greig & Co factory in Kirkcaldy (Pic: Fife Free Press)

Peter Greig & Co was based on the company’s original site where it continued to weave bespoke linens and natural fibres for the furnishing, industrial and apparel markets - it provided traditional weaving skills on modern machinery.

In 2019, it employed 40 staff and had 30 looms with 25,000 metres of linen being produced each week for markets in the UK, USA, Europe and the Far East.

With little signage on the building, entire generations have passed its doors unaware of the important role it played in the industry and the town’s economic fortunes.

Peter Greig & Co has been in current managing director Angus Nicoll’s family since 1911, with both sides of his parental line involved in textiles.

His father worked for Robert Stocks and Wemyss Honeyman which had a number of business concerns in Kirkcaldy, Dundee and Freuchie.

Then he left and went to Frances Webster in Arbroath, which was spinners of linen yarn and weavers of heavy tarpaulins.

Mr Nicoll’s maternal grandfather, Angus Robertson, son of Sir William Robertson, had the Hay Robertson factory in Dunfermline which at its height employed 1500 people.

The Peter Greig factory was bought by Mr Nicoll’s grandfather just before World War One.

Generations of locals were employed there, and many gave long-service to a company with a paternal approach to its workforce.

In 2019, the company stepped into the spotlight when its products featured in an exclusive fashion show at Edinburgh Castle as part of a special tribute to Mary Queen of Scots.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) worked with American fashion designer, Jeff Garner, from fashion label Prophetik, to celebrate the original Royal icon in the catwalk show Women of the Crown.

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