POTTED HISTORY No. 6:
Jute's literary debut
Jute's fifteen minutes
The Nutscene twine dolly
"I'm a bit foggy as to what jute is, but it's apparently something the populace is pretty keen on, for Mr. Worple had made quite an indecently large stack of it." So spake Bertram Wilberforce Wooster in Carry On, Jeeves. And might well he wonder.
Jute was and still is the second most popular fabric after cotton but it is also the most modest. Generally employed behind the scenes as a backing to linoleum and carpets, the underpinnings of an upholstered chair, or quite literally a doormat, jute's job is to make the finer materials of life look even better. One could say that much as Jeeves is the gentleman's gentleman, jute is the cloth's cloth.
Our story once again takes us back up north, back to the Industrial Revolution and back to Scotland. Half way up on the east coast lies Dundee, a city with a very fine port with links to the Far East. There were oranges and there was whale oil, but the most valued import was jute. This was a leafy plant grown in India and Bangladesh which could be processed in Dundee with the help of female hands and later, whale oil, into a strong fibre. So many uses were found for jute that Dundee employed 50,000 workers to process little else.
Strong winds play an important part in Scotland's weather and out in the garden, plants sometimes require help from stakes and twine to remain upright. One of the many jute companies decided to dye some twine green and, so willing was the modest jute to camouflage itself in the garden that Robertson Ireland decided to patent this discovery. They needed a name, so "not seen" became Nutscene.
Although modest by name, Nutscene twine was soon given its place in the sun by the royal gardeners at Windsor Castle and Buck House. It was used throughout the Empire because the Empire was very fond of gardening. Today Nutscene is a company run by women, though not the downtrodden mill-working kind, and they have found all sorts of new uses for garden twine, which is now exported beyond the dwindling reaches of the Empire. Ancient Industries is very pleased to be part of this jute story, and are now carrying a variety of Nutscene products in the US shop and UK shop.