Rhode Island Archival and Manuscript Collections Online

For Participating Institutions

Glenlyon Dye Works (MSS 6 sg 13)

Rhode Island Historical Society

121 Hope Street
Providence, RI 02906
Tel: 401-273-8107
Fax: 401-751-7930
email: reference@rihs.org

Biographical note

The Glenlyon Dye Works began as a minor department relegated to operating wherever space could be found or made within the confines of Sayles Bleacheries Plant A at Saylesville. This department began as early as 1876, for the purposes of bleaching and dyeing wool yarn and piece goods. It was not formalized until 1882 when it turned entirely to processing goods for the new Lorraine Manufacturing Company, and the volume of work increased considerably. A new plant was added in 1898 to permit expansion of existing operations and to house the new mercerizing machinery; this was located adjacent to Sayles Bleacheries and was later designated Plant B. In 1899 Frank Sayles, who then controlled Sayles Bleacheries, purchased an uncompleted mill building at Phillipsdale from Frederic Sayles. Originally used for bleaching silk and cotton fabrics, this mill was designated Plant C. Later, as Glenlyon Print Works, the plant specialized in printing and finishing fine cotton and silk blend fabrics. Plant D was added c. 1911 in Valley Falls, just below the dam. This was part of what had been the Samoset Mill, purchased by Frank A. Sayles in 1912 and used to house the operations formerly located in Plants A and B and to expand yarn bleaching and dyeing capacity. Plant D included a steam and water-powered electric generating plant called the Samoset Power Plant, which sold electricity to other Sayles mills and to the Blackstone Valley Gas and Electric Company of Pawtucket. During World War I, Plant D was turned to the production of linters, or gun cotton, for the manufacture of explosives. After Frank A. Sayles died in 1920 the trustees incorporated Sayles Finishing Plants, which included Glenlyon Dye Works. By the time this took place further consolidation of operations had been made. All Glenlyon operations had been withdrawn from Saylesville to Plant D in 1911, and were removed during 1920 to the new Plant E at Phillipsdale. Declining business had so reduced Plant E's profitability that the building was leased in 1942 to Cook's Yarn Dye Works. Cook bought the building outright in 1957, and it is now used as a warehouse. Plant C was sold in 1958 to Almac's.

These records represent all five plants of the Glenlyon Dye Works, although there is very little to study of the Valley Falls plant. There is some concentration within the period of years of maximum growth, c, 1883-1913. Particularly useful are the Superintendent's books and the Instructions book. The latter, dating c.1906-1931 are indexed binders of interplant directives regarding pay, procedures, processes, reporting, etc. The Superintendent's books appear to have been created as a handy reference for the plant managers to [sic] instructions, letters, memoranda, technical articles from magazines and other sources of information, c. 1915-1917. The collection also includes a good section of pay records extending from 1883 to 1923.