About two years ago, I took on the task of writing a companion book for my History of Dalgarven Mill which was to cover the costume collection, the putting together of it, the quality of it, with little offshoots into lace making, Paisley shawls, Ayrshire blankets and the like. Usually, I can sit down and write with confidence on the chosen subject. So, I decided that since the making of the collection was intimately tied up with our launch into the local society, having come from Edinburgh, I would begin with describing what we were doing and how it involved costumes. And of course it was our affection and involvement in amateur drama which led to Moira, first of all, researching, designing and eventually making costumes which spanned from medieval through Victorian, to the twenties and onwards. However, we both have such a horror of reproduction costume appearing in Museums, that when we began the Museum here we began to collect the ‘real thing’. This was done initially by going round the farms and country houses which had already donated to the Farming and Country Life collections, and asking if they had any old clothes. And of course they had! Attics full of them, trunks full of them, suitcases full of them, and within five years we had say 400 costumes! And by the time the Charity was setup in 1994, that had grown to 1,200! And over the years, we have reached 2,000/3,000/4,000 and we are still going….
So, thought I, just tell the story and introduce the bits as they came in! And unfortunately, the public are not very instructable, in that we would have liked Georgian, Regency, Victorian, Edwardian, twenties, thirties, forties, and so on, in the right order. But because the public have a mind of their own, we got them in any order they desired, like Victorian one day, flappers the next, Regency, the eighties, and so on. So the book began to try and duplicate this, a wonderful twenty-five pages on the Victorians, beautifully illustrated, with a 1920s theatre coat superimposed among them, and then some hats, and having had 1,200 pieces photographed for the book, it was easy, or so I thought, to chug through 125 pages in no particular time order, and lurching from lingerie to skating outfits – but wait a minute: it’s not quite as easy as that! So I am running out of time, but I am resolved to complete what will I think be a visually ravishing publication, which after one complete run through in time order, ignoring the excitement of getting something fabulous one day, I have come to the belated decision that I am going to try and do the latter and give you the collection in a sort of dislocated time order with excitement. So what this space!