Those of you who have visited our wee heritage centre will know that space is not on our side! We have to think carefully about how we can make the most of what we have to display some of our wonderful objects.
When we were offered a donation of two pieces of Beithcraft bedroom furniture, we knew that, despite the headache it was going to give us to find space, we had to have it as we did not have any in our collection.
From the mid 19th century Beith was the most important furniture manufacturing town in Scotland, with a reputation for high quality furniture. The industry in Beith can be traced back to Mathew Dale who started by making hand-built furniture for local people in 1845. A former employee of Dale, Matthew Pollock, progressed the manufacturing by introducing machinery in a factory setting at Beith North Railway Station.
The industry expanded across the local area and was a centre of excellence in furniture manufacturing, building a reputation throughout the world. Balfours, latterly known as Beithcraft, supplied furniture to the RMS Queen Mary and RMS Queen Elizabeth II.
Furniture is no longer produced in Beith. The factories closed due to several factors, including the inability to compete with self-assembly furniture firms. The last factory, Beithcraft, was wound up in 1983.
This dressing table and wardrobe were donated earlier this year and belonged to the donor’s mother, who used it from 1961, when she got married, until her passing in 2022.
This is a wonderful addition to our collection as we did not have any Beithcraft furniture in our care. Until now!